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Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2010 




WORK 18 














IGGY 38 





Responses to PlV's readers' survey 

Analysis by Green Fuchsia 

Fiction by Margot Pepper 

Poem by Bruce Isaacson 

Tale of Toil by Adam Quest 

Tale of Toil by Roger Coleman 

Blazey, Swift, Daniels, Gray, Black 

Merle Kessler, Gregg Nakanishi and Ann Henry 

Introduction to PiV art survey, spring 1989 

Tale of Art Toil by Mark Burbey 

Fiction by Jacques Servin 

Poem by Ivan Argiielles 

Fiction by Gregory Burnham 

Fiction by Anne Ellsworth 

Fiction by Elisa DeCarlo 

Fiction by Frank Ananicz 


Review by Primitivo of 

Dennis Hayes' Behind The Silicon Curtain 

From our readers 

COLLECTIVE: Green Fuchsia, D.S. Black, Marina LaZara, 
Emily Post-It, Pauline Portamento, Ana Logue, Trixie 
T-Square, Frog and the amazing Primitivo Morales. 

CONTRIBUTORS: Alexandre Saporetti, Merle Kessler, Lucius Cabins, Maxine Holz, xie-fu, C.J. Flaming Madman, I.B. 
Nelson, JRS, Jacques Servin, Ivan Arguelles, Odette Meyers & Burt Meyers (posthumously), L. Barbudo, Gregg Nakanishi 
& Ann Henry, Adam Quest, the Billboard Liberation Front, Zoe Noe, Roger Coleman, Angela Bocage, Gregory Burnham, 
Anne Ellsworth, Jesus Jr., Pike Bishop, Michael Botkin, MarsMensch. Elisa DeCarlo, Ace Backwords, klipschutz, Frank 
Ananicz, the Dead Honkey, Margot Pepper, Chaz Bufe & Typesetting Etc., Bruce Isaacson, Tom Tomorrow, Mark Burbey, 
Paris, Blazey, Jon Swift, Bili Turner, Jim Daniels, Patrick Worth Gray, Art Tinnitus, RGD, Dennis Hayes, Mary Jane 
Whitecollar, all the readers who responded to our inquiries, and others whose names elude us. 

Front Cover: design by David Peterson, photo by Stan Gamel of Carlos Rubio. 

Back Cover: design by David Peterson, poem by D.S. Black 

ISSN 0735-9381 Processed World is indexed in the Alternative Press Index. All of the 

articles in Processed H-'or/r/ reflect the views of the author and not necessarily those of 

other contributors or the Bay Area Center for Art And Technology. 

Processed World is a project of the Bay Area Center For Art And Technology, a California 

non-profit corporation. BACAT's mailing address is 37 Clementina St., San Francisco, 

CA 94105. 

"'There just isn't a policeman for 
every person who calls... this 
isn't a Utopia." 

LA County Sheriff's Dept. 

spokesperson responding to questions 

regarding murder victim who 

was denied help when she called 91 1. 

Gawking Heads 

. . . Gawking Heads . . . 
Glued to the Tube 

/ like to watch. 
— Chance the Gardener 
Chauncey Gardner 


We've all seen the images: the people 
in the street; the torchlit marches; the 
leaders called to account — they in turn 
call out the troops "to restore order" 
where there is no business as usual. The 
tanks roll in; the moment of truth is 
reached where either the popular will 
spells relief, if not victory, or the iron 
fist crushes dissent, buys itself more 

This sequence scrolls across our 
screens with such dismal regularity that 
we can begin to consider the emergent 
patterns, and some of the questions 
begged by these glancing blows of 

It's funny how the colors of the real world 
only really seem real when you viddy them on a 

— Alex, A Clockwork Orange 

The brutal reaction of the Chinese 
government to the popular demonstra- 
tions in Tiananmen Square was a hellish 
note for spring to end on. Those 
depressing days in June were a sharp 
reminder that spring is more a matter of 

rising temperatures than of soaring 

What was more, by tuning in to it 
live, many of us were, for a change, 
transported by our tvs to somewhere 
something vital was in the air. We felt a 
fresh wind from the East that lifted the 
veil on China; our hearts soared. 

Even if Being There meant looking 
over Dan Rather's shoulder, we reached 
out — in the tactilia of the telephone, we 
touched them by fax, modem, floppy, 
audio, and of course our eyes, through 

To many of us, these consumer 
electronics have been tools in search of a 
function. Allowing such extensions to 
shape our awareness is the ineluctable 
way of life in this century. Yet our 
electronically amplified senses present 
whole new problems of epistemology 
never considered by Berkeley or Hume. 

The new information ganglia have 
become our most vulnerable points as a 
species. Therein develop cults, and yes, 
nationalism. We share a collective 
"electronic shadow memory" which is 
constantly manipulated by the image- 
makers of today. Like flickers on the 
cave wall, these images serve to enliven 
us through the omniscient celebrity eye 
of the voyeur; we witness instant history 
in the orgasm of the moment. What 
actually happens Out There (on the 
street) remains at bottom an ocean of 



As so vividly demonstrated by South 
Africa's State of Emergency (recently 
renewed for a fourth year), an entire 
nation can be wiped from the center 
stage of public debate with the flick of a 
censor's switch. The recent sham elec- 
tions for the largely white South African 
parliament momentarily attracted the 
flighty attention of the news media. The 
defiance campaign has rippled our wa- 
tery eyes, but has yet to spur a mean- 
ingful change from the U.S. policy of 
"constructive engagement." 

Information is available, in this 
country at least, if one makes the effort, 
and has an octopal grasp of the issues. 
Whether it be by watching the half hour 
weekly news program South Africa Now 
on Public Television, or pursuing other 
examples of the alternative media, one 
can get some idea of what is happening 
with the struggle against apartheid. 

The mainstream commercial media is 
to world news coverage what Nestle's is 
to nourishment. In the reflection of the 
visually adhesive boob tube (idiot lan- 
tern; that damned box; glass teat, etc., 
as television has been variously known), 
we are reduced to window shopping 
channel-hoppers, with a cafeteria-style 
view of history. 

Causes come like fads in the carousel 
of world events. There are few cam- 
paigns which capture the imagination 
and remain after so many ricochets 
through the media web. Those "natter- 
ing nabobs of negativism" who cause 
Uncle Sam such embarrassment can be 
cowed into silence, as when Secretary of 
State Al Haig denounced their coverage 
of El Salvador in the early '80s. 

The Chinese authorities have de- 
monstrated a particularly disturbing 
affinity for the new technology. Video, 
the electron gun of television, serves as 
the ubiquitous informant, the eyes of 
Big Brother which sweep many public 
assemblies. The world is sensed through 
a two-way lens, as deadly as any gun 
barrel. Dissident faceprints are broad- 
cast, leading to arrests in ironic imita- 
tion of /Immca 5 A/o5< Wanted. 

The government version of recent 
history becomes the new national reali- 
ty. To survive one must, at least in 
public, toe the party line with what the 

Chinese call biaotai* — one expresses an 
attitude which conforms to the new 
improved rendition of recent events. 
One lies, in keeping with the spirit of the 

While repressive societies can control 
what one says or does, it takes a 
powerful propaganda apparatus to 
shape what a people think. The ability of 
the Chinese system to program its 
people (more than a billion) will be 
tested in the months ahead. 

Our society, preferring the subtlety of 
manipulation to the crude brutality of 
armed force, exhibits a more sophisti- 
cated version of everyday "virtual reali- 

The same technology, as we have 
seen, cuts both ways. The intijadah, on 
the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, 
has been sustained by a sophisticated 
underground information network, with 
fax and copy machines on the move to 
get transmissions in and the message 
out. This summer's production of the 
San Francisco Mime Troupe, Seeing 
Double, has added computer viruses to 
the armory of unconventional warfare 
used against Mossad, the Israeli secret 
service. Another promising forum for 
the mass democratic movement in 
South Africa is described elsewhere (see 
page 48). 

• • • 

Processed World\\a.s, from its inception, 
been of many minds, both wary of and 
drawn to the kidnapped child, technolo- 

We all must rise to the Pied Piper's lilt 
at some point or other. It has long been 
stressed in these pages that life will 
become/has become unsupportable un- 
less we get a grip on the turning wheel of 
progress and reinvest it with a purpose 
that promotes survivail of the planet and 
assures everyone equally human rights. 
That may seem like a pretty tall order, 
but it's the only real work that ultimately 
is going to matter. As anybody who has 
once passed "Go" should know, we 
cannot continue to grind away blithely 
at our workstations when, as we look 
ahead, the horizon is hurtling towards 
us. There is a basic formula for survivEil 
that still eludes us as a species; can we 
endure such ignorance at this stage of 

As we wait to see which is stronger— 
our folly or our genius — it's back to 
work in the flesh and fiber optic inter- 
zone. Adam Quest's tale of toil, "Spec- 
tacle for Sale," highlights the modern 
televideo world and its workers. The 
TV age is also examined in Jacques 

Servin's fictional piece, "Spooky Days of 
the Wide-Eyed." "The next generations 
would consist of those people like me 
who had once found the act of watching 
television inexpressibly soothing. . ." 

Margot Pepper's "Work" quantifies 
the time siphoned off from meaningful 
activity by most "work," while L. Bar- 
budo's letter reflects on the Oakland 
schools in his response to "Children of 
the Night" in issue #23. The modern 
electronic workplace is dissected in PW 
contributor Dennis Hayes' book, Behind 
the Silicon Curtain, reviewed here by 
Primitivo Morales. 

Dead Poets' booster klipschutz has 
lovingly assembled and introduced a 
series of poems by the late Bert Meyers 
ranging in moods from "Time is an old 
boss/ we hate together ..." to "Dark 
trees have bottled its light. /They glow 
like many beers." 

Speaking of epistemology, this issue 
features further thoughts on the subject 
of AIDS. In issue #15, the group 
editorial "Quarantine Corner" discussed 
the vector of disinformation that 
sketched out much of the public revul- 
sion to people with AIDS. In this issue. 
Green Fuchsia takes aim at the backlash 
against unconventional (i.e. unmarried, 
non-monogamous) sexual behaviors 
and relationships. Anything involving 
sex and death will generate furor, as 
"Safe and Sorry: the Legacy of AIDS" 
occasioned some heat and smoke among 
the editors. His review of the scientific 
literature, coupled with a visceral rejec- 
tion of the new sexual conformity, calls 
into question the true meaning of "safe 
behaviors," the inculcation of which can 
be found in the cultural agenda of state 
and health authorities, AIDS activists, 
and other concerned citizens who would 
pave our way to oblivion with the best of 

Some readers who have written to us 
object to the fiction and poetry that 
appear in this magazine. We say it's 
spinach, and you will find in this issue 
lots of bite-sized pieces ideal for eleva- 
tor-reading, or to enjoy on the John. 
Three short fictional pieces ("Hell on the 
33rd Floor," "Iggy" and "Walking Out 
Tomorrow") are the latest in our vision 
of capitalist realism. 

Issue #23 included a reader survey, 
which was mailed to subscribers during 
the spring. You've done us proud! The 
6% response rate was (unexpectedly) 
high. Most of the respondents wrote at 
length. We've done some severe prun- 
ing; the results are presented on pages 
4-9. Some came to praise, others to 

bury, yet others "got something off their 
chests." There were a few Tales of Toil 
in miniature. A profound thanks to all 
who took the time to respond — results 
won't be immediate, but we've learned a 

We included a questionnaire (that 
most loathsome of forms) with the 
mailing to subscribers. The object was 
to elicit material on "art," whatever that 
may be. Again, the response was great 
— in fact, it was so massive as to require 
more space and planning for its presen- 
tation. We whet your appetites by 
presenting for your consideration (as 
Rod Serling would say) Mark Burbey's 
provocative essay "Why We Live, or, 
Being vs. Nothingness." We also present 
two different views of Jesse Helms as a 
patron of the arts in our centerfold. On 
page 26 the survey questions are repeat- 
ed and the answers to date summarized 
in the hope of obtaining yet more grist 
for our mill. 

Apologies for not including more, but 
issue #25 will have a major section on 
art and work, artistic or not. 

So as not to leave out those with other 
interests, we propose another theme, 
one touched on in the past: leisure time 
and travel. How we spend it (or want 
to); what working in the relaxation 
industry is like; the vacation of the 
future — either as satire or speculation. 
How about a semiotic analysis of lawn 
furniture? It's up to you. 

Some readers have written saying 
they would like to hear from places other 
than San Francisco. 

We agree. So . . . MAKE IT HAP- 
PEN. Send us tales from your neck of 
the woods. 

We would like to see more analytical 
articles. What's happening at your 
workplace? Is there any work-place 
organizing going on? What environ- 
mental issues are or should be at the 
forefront? What burning issues have we 
missed? Have we burned any of the 
issues touched on here? (Careful with 
that flag, Eugene!) 

So write, and write often. We love 
hearing from all-a ya. Bye! 

— Art Tinnitus & The PW collective 


Biao— Surface, outside, 

Tai — posture, stance, 
gesture, attitude 

To make known one's position, 
To declare where one stands 


The Readers Talk Back 

An emboldened six percent of our 
readers responded to the Great Processed 
World S\ir\ey in issue #23. There were 54 
respondents, of whom } were non- 
subscribers and 6 were new subscribers. 
Here are some of their more pithy 
responses. We start out with some Tales 
of Toil in miniature (truncated tails?) 
generated by the question: 

Do you sell your life to buy your survival? 
How? Do you work in an office, with 
computers or people? Are you doing the 
processing or are you being processed? Or 
are you outside of it all? 

Ace Backwards, CA: (^uit my straight 
job 4 years ago and have been bent ever 

M.R., TX: I dream of tearing it all down, 
(gendy and painlessly of course) but mean- 
time I'm providing consumers with what 
they really want: a credit-card operated gas 
pump, so they won't even have to go in the 
store. At last. 

J.U., CA: ... I am an editor for an 
"alternative" music magazine ... I work at 
home. The computer isn't always on, but I 
have to use it often. I work alone. Friends 
come by to visit sometimes, but not as often 
as I would like (most of them have to work at 
real jobs). I have a big say in what the 
magazine writes about, but I also have to 
accommodate the content to the needs/de- 
sires of the readership and marketplace. I 
never want to be "outside of it all." The 
times are too heavy to stand on the sidelines. 
J.E., TX: Personally, I slave for wages as 
a practical nurse on a cancer floor in a large 
"non-profit" (i.e. very profitable) hospital. 
Love my work, my patients and my fellow 
nurses. Have earned a bachelor^s degree in 
chemistry and have planned to get out of 
nursing as it is a rough profession for 
anybody past early middle age (I am 35). 
Have been accepted for grad school but as 
my prospective employers are drug co's or 
giant chemo firms a la Dow and Union 
Carbide I am not enthusiastic. The hard 
sciences are the most intellectually demand- 
ing study going ... yet they also produce 
the narrowest tunnel vision — I have yet to 
see any of even the brightest of my fellow 
science grads show anything like genuine 
intellectual curiosity. I worked in Amnesty 
International with business and accounting 
types who were far more interesting people 
than my fellow chemistry majors. 

T.C.B., ??: My jobs have always in- 
volved office, secretarial, business, comput- 
er, paper-pushing tasks. Used to believe that 
I did this work "accidentally", that I some- 
how should be doing something "important" 
or "creative." Well, this work seems to be 
what I'm good at — organizing information, 
minimizing repetition, constructing sys- 
tems. The challenge now is to find settings 
where I can sell these skills and not hate 
myself . . . 

P.S., VA: I am a reformed art student, 
working in Washington, D.C. I studied film 
and video production, and graduated with a 
B.A. I enlisted in the U.S. Navy (after a 
frustrating job hunt) and worked as a TV 
production specialist. I recorded lots of news 
programs relating to DoD actions and 
policy, played movies on a closed-circuit TV 
system, and produced/edited in-house pro- 
jects. It was a job, not an adventure. 

After 5 years of the Navy, I became a 
federal employee. As a producer/director for 
the U.S. Army, I am doing the work I went 
to school for and always wanted to do. I 
exercise creative decisions and take pride in 
the work I do, trying to communicate the 
message in each script in an understandable 
and human fashion. The finished products 
are not entertainment, but they do serve a 
purpose — education and training. 

On the surface, it would appear that I 
have been processed. As I sit in my office, in 
the Pentagon, typing this letter to you, it 
would appear that way. But I do make a 
difference here. My input will make the 
government better, more aware and caring. 
I do believe this. Not kinder and gentler, 
but more aware. 

And reading your magazine helps me to 
do this, opening my mind to new and 
exciting ways of looking at ourselves. 

N.G., MN: I'm too tired to talk about my 
life so I cheat and won't answer. 

PW, Walla Walla WA, I haven't sold my 
life for survival, but rather I've been kid- 
napped by the state into prison where I am 
currently being held against my will. I work 
as an unpaid volunteer in the prison law 
library. No computers here. To the extent 
that I have control over my life and actions I 
am not being processed in that I use the 
means available to me to improve my, and 
others', living conditions, human rights, etc. 

P.D., CA: I do not sell my life to buy my 
survival. However, I anticipate that it may 
happen. Currently I am fortunate/unfor- 
tunate in being a single mom on welfare. As 
my contribution — I go to school and am a 
full-time activist. I look at it that the state is 
paying for me to improve society. I produce 
a monthly newsletter, flyers, press releases 
and a zillion other things on the computer. 
It drives me crazy! Although I control the 
materials, I think anyone who sits in front of 
a computer is being done to (processed) on 
some level. 

A.R., NY: I've sold chunks of my life in 
many ways to buy survival and still do, 
although more happily. I'm a graduate 
student in history at a school where they 
actually provide me with enough fellow- 
ship. . . On the other hand, school is work, 
just not too well paid and differently struc- 
tured. I sure do spend a lot of time with this 
computer. Before school I worked in restau- 
rants as a waitress, cook, dishwasher and 
bus-person; in various left-wing or academic 
organizations as a receptionist and word 
processor and, as a sop to my ego, as an 
"organizer" (more phone calls, ugh, the 
telephone is worse than the computer); as a 
photographic printer and camera operator; 
as a construction worker; as a temp for 
various large, ugly corporations; you know, 
the usual. Being a receptionist was the 
worst; being a photo printer was the best 
except that it made me ill from the chemis- 
try and I got fired for calling OSHA. 
Actually being a grad student is the best, 

W.W., NY: I do whatever work I can get. 
I'm one of Capital's throwaways because of 
my resistance to war while serving with the 
Marines in Viet Nam. I also have done time 
for not talking to a Grand Jury. Employers 
don't look on my unstable life too kindly. 
My latest jobs have been inventory clerk, 
child care worker, and landscaping. I have 
probably had over 100 jobs so far in my life. 
I went through 10 the first year back from 
Viet Nam. My temper is a lot more 
controlled now so I don't openly assault 
stupid bosses anymore. I work with com- 
puters, just data entry while doing inven- 


The Equalizer, NY: I'm a "film drudge" 
for a very violent TV show on prime 
time. . . This is my 31st week working on 
this show— 2 more months till it's over (no 
more 50-60 hour weeks) and I'm unemp- 
loyed (no more $$), That's Show Biz! (This 
is not glamorous!) 

FCF, Soledad, CA.: I am outside ol it all. 
Not because I'm here, but because I refuse 
to be less than what I came to this speck of 
dust as, and I will leave as I came — a caring 
human being. I feel it is more important to 
be a part of this earth than a sore upon the 
face of it. 

G.M.T., CA: Yes, I have a steady job — I 
am a cook in a moderately high class 
restaurant — which is considered neither ar- 
tistic creation nor world salvation. But 
neither does it destroy the environment 
(except for the decimation of Alaskan King 
Crab and Pacific Swordfish), nor does it 
warp people's minds. As with most jobs it 
demands sacrifices: I have to cut my hair 
and shave my face. More important, it 
demands 30-40 hours a week, time which I 
would rather spend writing and studying the 
nature of reality. On the other hand, there is 
a lot to be said for bringing pleasure into 
others' lives. . . It gives me an opportunity 
to focus on simple quality, and through my 
example inspire others to do the same. 
Which probably sounds like rampant ego- 
tism and rationalization, and to some extent 
is, but I just want you to know that while I 
may regret the time it uses up, I enjoy my 
job and in no way feel guilty about it. 

L.O., NY: I have been tamed by 16 years 
in the workforce — now I need the structure. 
But for a year and a half, I worked a 3-day 
week plus free-lance, when I felt like it. That 
was great. It's been real hard going back to 
full-time. I keep trying to find "meaningful 
work" & nothing's ever been pure enough. 
Now I work for a gov't agency on recycling; 
last job was for a pseudo-feminist nonprofit 
that had the ethics of a brothel; my most 
"fulfilling^' job was way back when I edited 
puzzle magazines, they really reached the 
wretched of the earth. 

I like computers. They are my little friends. 
I hear of their growth mostly from a 
coworker, who is truly in tune with technol- 
ogy (he has held worship services at the foot 
of Sutro TV tower). . . . To come across 
something that treats information technolo- 
gy like an infestation of fascistic happy-face 
slime molds is thought provoking. This is a 
good thing in a field where almost all the 
news comes from press releases and ads. . . . 
I expect to see a new profession appear 
soon — people to tell you how to make the 
most of all the information available to you. 
What I want to see is a discussion of whether 
and how we can avoid being controlled by 
our data flow. CONSIDER THIS A SUG- 
THEME. . . . 

J.S., TX: Indeed, I ransom a portion of my life to the time-bandits for my biological 
survival. Ours is an anthropology of needs, as you well know, and though I attempt to 
resist this anthropology as much as possible, it is impossible to do so entirely. So despite a 
relatively low rent, virtually no furnishings, a bare minimum of appliances (the "needs!"), 
and a 20' X 20' plot where I attempt to grow a goodly portion of my summer victuals, I 
have still been compelled to seek to be exploited. I work presently as a technical translator 
(I have been with die company 9 months). I translate all manner of documents from 
Spanish to English and vice-versa. ... I have seen, but never felt obligated to speak to, 
the second-in-command, a Dan Quayle look-alike who dresses in Madras shorts and polo 
shirts. I report only to a gaggle of robust middle-aged women, who variously hold such 
titles as office manager, assistant office manager, and the like. These stalwart individuals 
heave IBM Selectrics and large boxes of files around like so many down pillows, and 
swear like truck drivers when together and believe themselves out of earshot of the more 
gentrified editors, whom they consider unreconstructed pointy-heads. Their relationship 
to us translators is more ambiguous; in general, they consider us oddities, since most of 
us have peculiar semi-foreign backgrounds (or are foreigners entirely, toward whom they 
have an attitude of amused interest, which in some cases verges on scorn). . . . Suffice it 
to say that what I translate almost invariably involves the scheming of multinational 
corporations for more profits: the marketing of new and casuistically uncertain drugs 
(mosdy antibiotics); an attempt by Shell to grab a huge tract in the Gran Chaco just after 
Stroessner's overthrow; an attempt by Eli Lilly Co. to refuse to pay the Mexican 
government a $5 million debt, on the excuse that Mexico's severance of ties with South 
Africa had hurt the company's market; and so forth. These are all documents from the 
companies themselves, their legal representatives, or foreign governments. That is to 
say, the clients who are hiring my services are usually the multinationals themselves. 
Sometimes my jobs involve pure R&D, e.g. nuclear magnetic resonance research, 
polymers, etc. (these are usually articles from research journals); other times they are 
instruction manuals (how to slap together circuit boards, for instance — used in Mexican 
maquiladora factories, etc.). Occasionally something which I consider actually useful to 
society will come my way, e.g. a lengthy report on the battle against onchocerciasis (river 
blindness) in Equatorial Guinea (this is a WHO-related Spanish research team). 

I am paid a pittance for all this: $31.00 per 1,000 words of the original language. In 
theory, I could crank out 3,000 words a day, but not only is there not this much work to 
be had (it comes in waves), I wouldn't want to work this much anyway. (About 60% of 
the company's work is in Japanese; German comes next). I doubt I will translate more 
than 300,000 words this year, which means I'll make around $10,000 for the whole year. 
So do I enjoy my job? Clearly, I am getting ripped off; after all, I am providing a service 
for some of the largest multinationals (du Pont, Merck, Sharp & Dohme, Shell); at the 
same time, I am fascinated by seeing what depravities these corporations will stoop to 
next. On a purely personal and artisanal level, I am quite interested in the play between 
languages . . . 

Nevertheless, the ironies of my situation are sometimes ludicrous. I have, for example, 
just finished a translation of an article written by Cesar Chavez in April for the 
Sacramento Bee regarding the misuse of pesticides, for distribution to Spanish-language 
press (a volunteer thing which the United Farm Workers asked me to do; since I do a lot 
of medical translating and am fairly familiar with the terminology, I have also 
volunteered to translate such things as as AIDS pamphlet for the Chicano community, 
etc.). And now, after just completing the pesticide article, I find before me, from my 
payingjob, a long patent from the Stauffer Chemical Co. for a new herbicide. 



\ ea 

What did you think 

of our 





Didn't see it: 


Didn't see it and want it: 


Not so Hot: 


Don't remember: 






Hated it: 


L.A., OR: For me, the "Green Issue" 
(#22) was a bit pale, undernourished per- 
haps. Or was it a matter of fertilizer or even 
inadequate irrigation? 

J. P., CA: I thought the issue was a good 
one, especially in its willingness to criticize a 
"politically correct" movement. I think that 
it is good to criticize ideas or movements 
generally accepted by a group as "correct," 
rather than only criticizing movements or 
ideas generally accepted by a group to be 
suspect or wrong. ... I have to admit that 
whenever I saw articles about the "green 
movement" in the paper or in magazines, I 
didn't really think about them; I just put the 
greens in the category of good people 
working for a good cause (with a tremen- 
dous jerk of the knee). I was quite surprised, 
then, to read about the other side of the 
movement, the side that seems to hate 
human beings with a passion. I certainly 
don't lump all the greens under the "stupid 
bastards" category now, but I do try to think 
a bit harder about these groups. Lesson 
learned, thanks to PW . 

P.S., VA: Issue #22 was very dogmatic. 
The "green" philosophy deserves much at- 
tention, and I am glad you focused on it. 
Many of your contributors had their own 
personal agendas (it seemed) and issue #22 
often reminded me of tracts handed out at 
political rallies. 

Anon6, AZ: Yes 

T.C.B.: Hated it. Now that I live in the 
Northwest and have a lot more contact with 
Green-type issues, I'm continually disgusted 
by righteous ideologues who don't want to 

do the down-and-dirty work of cooperation 
and compromise among all the people and 
interests involved. Blaming Big Bizness is so 
much easier than talking to third-generation 
loggers about why you're trying to destroy 
their jobs. 

W.S., CA: The Green issue was political- 
ly correct but not as interesting to read as 
many other issues. 

Anon2, NY: The "Green Issue" was 
pretty good. ... I couldn't agree with you 
more regarding your assessment of the 
Green movement. Not that I was ever much 
of an expert on the subject, but I don't much 
care for people who would consider me 
politically incorrect just for indulging in an 
occasional steak. 

S.S., CA: I think it is important for the 
left to be self-critical. If I thought anything 
about the green issue it was that I saw some 
healthy criticism. I bet some greens had a 
hard time swallowing that. I'm not sure PW 
should identify with greens more. 

FCF, CA: I am really into the Green 
issue, and your issue was really an insightful 
view of the Greens. . . . Anyone who is alive 
on this earth should be totally involved in 
the Green movement. 

Should PW get involved in the 







Why Not: 




Up to You: 




Don't know: 


Greens should join you: 


MP, CA: Nope. Maybe left greens. 
LA, OR: No. PW should not get 
involved in the "green movement" or any 
other movement for that matter, if you wish 
to continue being "The Magazine With A 
Bad Attitude." Once you begin to concen- 

trate on and actively promote specific issues 
you also begin to narrow your focus, take 
sides, and thus acquire the blinders that 
prevent you from seeing all those other 
opportunities out there that lend enhance- 
ment to your Bad Attitude. The result is to 
become mired in ideology and dogma. 

SBG: I think PW should get involved in 
everything. My motto is "Everybody's busi- 
ness is my business." I am no isolationist. 

J. P., CA: ... I don't think PPK should get 
involved in the green movement. Yes, the 
green movement is important (certainly, in 
the big picture, much more important than 
the plight of the modern office worker), but 
so are many other movements and issues, 
each worthy of its own magazine. I think 
that PW\i, important in that it gives people a 
place to read and write about what is going 
on in the lives of people in situations similar 
to their own, from both a cranky, god-i- 
hate-this point of view, and from a more 
universal how-does-it-all-fit-together point 
of view. This gives people both an outlet for 
frustration and inspiration to keep at it (life, 
that is) with a reminder that there are many 
more important things to life besides work. 
If PW were to lose its present focus, and 
concentrate on the bigger issues, I think this 
outlet and inspiration would disappear from 
the magazine. 

I.B., MI: Of course! The worst pollution 
is indoor pollution. The hermetically sealed 
office building is the most hazardous envi- 
ronment. The people who create this kind of 
micro-environment for us are the same ones 
despoiling our macro-environment. 

M.R., TX: Involved in the green move- 
ment? I dunno. I felt a homecoming feeling 
when reading the intro to "Maggies Farm" 
article. I fear I too am a "wannabe green." 
Should be green but they don't quite reach 
me. Their grassroots approach, the target- 
ing of individual consumers was, I once 
thought, important because only through a 
fundamental shift in everyone's values — 
away from "mindless consumption" — would 
a real, deep, lasting change take place. I 
envisioned a "trickle-up" effect — once a 
"critical mass" shared these values the gov- 
ernment, corporations changed, being made 
up themselves of individual consumers. This 
was the First Grassroots Vision. Okay, pull 
the flowers out of your hair. (What kind of 
drugs is that girl on., anyway?) I think 
rather that a revolutionary change must 
happen. This system is flawed at its roots. 
. . . I'm not sure you could join the greens & 
provide that rebellious energy. It would be 
delicate. But a combination of forces and 
ideas — yes. 

P.D., CA: Green Movement!? How 
about a more militant stance? Earth First! is 
where it's at! I think the notion of the green 
movement is a good one but I'm quick to 
fear the liberals bureaucratizing and being 
concerned about offending someone! Right 
On! Let's offend away! I find it extremely 
offensive what we're doing to our planet. 
Liberals beware! As Mao said, "Combat 

W.S., CA. I dunno, it just depresses me 
to think about it. 

L.O., NY: But you can do much more. 
There are lots of Greens around, not so 
many anarchists. 


Should you join the 'greens?' 

Already am: 






Reading, or studying: 


Too Busy: 


None of yr Bus: 


Lack of faith: 


Wouldn't join a party: 


L.A., OR: Rather not! ... I dislike 
confrontations. No marches, no sit-ins, no 
protests, no rebellions, no ultimatums, no 
manifestoes. No nothing. Go play instead. 

SBG: I am a very politically involved 
person, but it hurts. I have little time, less 
money, and no stomach for bureaucratic 
harassment on any level. Please advise. In 
the face ol the Exxon holocaust, not to 
mention my own small town's development, 
I ask myself, "What then, must be done?" 
We can lobby, protest, and recycle goods, 
but I do not have undying faith in the 
political process or even in the ability of 
humankind to save itself. And I sure don't 
think God's going to get involved. 

P.S., VA: I guess I'm a reader, not an 
activist. I'm not ready to be green yet. 

Anon6, AZ: The individual must become 
involved in the Green movement, or "socie- 
ty" will not survive. 

I.B., Ml: I tried to, but it's not easy to 
find a "Green" group in this area. Detroit is 

still a one-industry "company-town" where 
most people think Ralph Nader is a Gommu- 

P.P., CA: As far as involvement goes, for 
you or me, well, I usually strap on ' the 
mental gas mask before I deal with any 
political party. I prefer to deal with issues, 
where the power trips that politicking brings 
out in people are at least focussed. The 
Greens tackle a lot of important issues, 
better and more than most Parties, and 
that's why I like them. I wouldn't join a 
party, though, unless I saw a need it could 
Jill, either in myself or in the world. 

^L, VA: Yes, I'm running for congress in 
de [sic] suburbs on a Green Platform. 

W.W., NY: Economic survival and in- 
terest to relocate to a place, where it's 
possible to live collectively take my major 
time, I have been forced to live under 
austerity most of my life and have a hard 
time with fads. I do love nature over 
development but that's often tied in with my 
hatred of capital, which makes commodities 
out of everything. I also have been corrupt- 
ed by growing up in an inner city. I love 
movies and libraries. 

A.R., NY: As for me, yeah, I recycle, etc. 
but here in Brooklyn immediate human 
needs distract me from the needs of the 
planet. So no, I shouldn't get involved in the 
greens, I'm busy with AIDS stuff and 
abortion stuff and refugee stuff and you 

A.B., CA: I suppose I should get in- 
volved, whatever that's supposed to mean. 
However, in any "movement" there's a 
certain social element involved, and since I 
am socially incompetent I don't get in- 

Anon5, AZ: Us? Well ... I don't espe- 
cially like associating w/ granolaheads but if 
the movement makes an attempt to dissoci- 
ate itself then I'd "join." Roommate says 
"Sure why not?" but realistically, won't go 
out of his way- it'll have to come to his 
Friday evening beer "salon." 

'*"-"- "--•-- •• • ^^ ^^^ ' encounter in an office behind the xerox How many people read your copy of /^H/? ^ 

When & where did you 

first encounter PWl \ 





Magazine or paper: 


(including Utne Reader, 

Mother Jones, 

Village Voice, Bay 



Press Directory, Facisheel S) 



Another Group: 


PIV street activities: 




Anon2, NY: First heard about PW from 
another legal proofreader. Hidden in our 
major corporate law firms, there are a 
bunch of proofreaders who would love to 
bring the system down. 

JB, lA: In Ottawa, Ontario ... It was, as 
I recall, the second issue on sex. It looked 
interesting — I was intrigued by your name 
— I bought it — but upon reading it I was 
disappointed. After that I only flipped 
through a few issues now and then in stores, 
but as they say: "Once bitten ..." However, 
a good friend of mine just lent me issue #23 
and it is quite good. So I'm subscribing. 

AR, NY: I had heard rumors about it 
along the disgruntled-clerical-worker grape- 
vine for some years. In fact what I'd heard 
was that there was some anarchist magazine 
out in California somewhere that would tell 
you how temp workers could rapidly and 
secretly bring large corporations crashing to 
their knees via sabotage. So when the first 
issue I saw did not provide instructions for 
this project I was sorry, but liked it anyway. 

Anon4: I first encountered PW a few 
years ago. I think it was your sex issue, and 
I still remember a short story about a sexual 

machine involving white-out and scotch 
tape (I think). The story made a vivid 
impression on me, but I seem to have 
forgotten all the details. 

PS, VA: I first saw your magazine in the 
computer magazine section ... at the news 
stand in the Pentagon Concourse. It was 
issue #21, and I have never seen another. I 
waited many months and finally asked the 
vendor about it, and of course, no one ever 
knew what I was talking about. It became 
obvious to me the need to subscribe, though 
I still check the computer section, just in 
case . . . 

F&SW, MA: We encountered our first 
issue: "Processed Kids" in Salt Lake City's 
only "punk rock" record store — on the far 
west side of town. We bought it immediate- 
ly. We bought the "Processed Foods" issue in 
an anarchist bookstore in Amsterdam. 

JS, TX: First encountered PM^ being sold 
in front of Roxy Theater, SF, by a funny- 
looking guy with a .sandwich board. I 
dismissed the guy as a crank, but my pal 
bought a copy, and we got to look at it 
before the movie started, and it was pretty 
funny. The movie, by the way, was some 
kind of neo-situationist effort. Call it Sleep. 
The year, ca. 1982. 

Responses ranged from a high of 45 to a low 
of 1 (natch), reported by 15 people. The 
average is about 2.4 people. It seems to get 
copied a lot. 

Only two responses stated that their 
names could be used— both of them prison- 
ers. We have decided to leave everyone 
hidden behind initials (sometimes altered). 
This gives everybody the same weight, and 
prevents any retaliations. We have edited 
the responses for clarity and brevity. 

LA, OR: As far as I know, I am the only 
responsible human reading my copies of 
PW. ... I have no idea how many irre- 
sponsibles may be reading it. My wife has 
occasionally glanced through an issue but 
has apparently failed to be grabbed enough 
to read much of it. 

SBG, ??: Anywhere from 3-10 depending 
on how many friends I have recently 

PW, Walla Walla WA.: Anywhere from 
5-7 people read my copy. Double that if 
their cellmates read it too. 

PD, CA: 1 1/3 (myself, my roommate 
about every 3rd issue, and once in a while 
my kids admire the graphics). 

WS, CA. Only I usually read PW. Oddly 
enough, I don't seem to have many friends 
to whom it would be relevant. Maybe I'll 
check this out further, though. 

JB, lA: 3-4. This sounds suspiciously like 
the kind of info you'd give to potential 
advertisers. IJ you're going to use this information 
to sell me to advertisers you can just tear this up 
along with my check and cancel my subscription 
before it even begins.'.' I refuse to be a commodity, 
traded and exchanged via advertising, and I 
would expect a magazine like yours would 
be sensitive to that. 

Anon4: My husband and my teen-age 
daughter also read the magazine. 

MR, England: Mostly just myself reads 
PW, occasionally a colleague gets a frag- 
ment down his or her throat. 


What do you like best 


Poetry, Fiction, Graphics, 

Tales of Toil, 

Analysis & Essays 



Tales of Toil: 


Essays & Analysis: 










P.S., VA: It is refreshing to hear other 
people analyze our little world with fresh 
perspectives. It gives me hope that the 
"processing" is not complete or homogenous. 

B.S., NY: I like best the revolutionary 
elements of PIV, the elements that satirize 
and expose the parallels between Nazi 
Germany and the U.S. today, the elements 
that satirize and expose the mindlessness the 
bourgeoisie is trying to get us to take on. I . 
like your global focus, your focus on imperi- 
alism both in the U.S. bloc and the Soviet 

S.S., CA: Good graphics. I like the fact 
that the magazine is geared toward working 
people. But, I think that if you want to 
reach the masses you might consider being 
less intellectual/artsy. Not that working 
people can't understand anything beyond SF 
Chronicle 3rd grade level, but it feels 

J.W.: Tales of Toil are my favorite! I'll 
never forget a wonderful article written by a 
janitor who worked in the downtown man- 
sions of capitalism. The poetry is often 
remarkable: funny bitter, zany, stuff you 
don't read in the academic poetry rags, 
that's for sure! 

J.E., TX: I like factual articles best — real 
life experiences of readers. "You've Got to 
Give Me Credit," "Mud Shark for Hire." 
The article by the guy whose parents were 
Los Alamos scientists was devastating. (I 
grew up an Army brat familiar with "securi- 
ty" restrictions so I have some faint idea of 
where this guy comes from.) Art work is 
uniformly good as is layout and the general 
"feel" of the mag— I love a publication that 
looks competently produced but not slick. I 
love graphic art and would like to see more. 

Ace Backwards, CA: Like the cool 
neo-psychotic graphics and Tales of Toil. 

T.C.B.: Enjoy Tales of Toil. First-person 
narrative allows writer more freedom and 
cdlows reader to draw own conclusions. 
Analysis and Essays: Enjoyment strictly 
dependent upon writer's skill in presenting 
ideas. If content is factual, I usually give 
article more credence than if content is 
theoretical/ideological. I tire of politicos 
with a beef preaching to the faithful. Fiction 
& Poetry: Almost never "enjoy" these, but 
think they have a place in PW. I try to 
extend courtesy to the authors, but usually 
find the pieces sophomoric. Graphics: Oh, 
sure. Pictures are great. My ongoing favor- 
ite feature of PW is the letters. Love 
following the rhubarbs between grumpy 
rad-libs, and occasionally get a sense of real 
people with real feelings responding to what 
they read in PW. 

Anon2, NY: In a way I like the fiction 
most because it is rare to see a magazine that 
publishes fiction which directly challenges 
the values, structures or work rules of our 
society. I wish the fiction were as polished as 
some of the essays, though. These are 
probably the best crafted elements of the 
magazine. I wish all the text were more free 
of typos and grammatical inaccuracies, 
though I suppose this problem is a result of a 
small staff, time pressures and a lack of 
funds. With regard to the fiction, you do 
occasionally publish something that is per- 
fectly polished and dazzlingly good. Off- 
hand, I can think of one story by Michael 
Blumlein, . . . His PW story ["Softcore" in 
issue #20], though, was better and more 
poignant than some other stories of his that 
I've seen. 


L.A., OR: Tales of Toil have caught my 
attention more than any other features of 
PW. There is one possible exception: I am 
still fascinated by all of issue #18 and your 
ability to poke satire at sex. But then I've 
always lead a very sheltered life. 

W.S., CA.: Critiques of the dehumaniz- 
ing social processes that are supposed to 
form our "everyday life." Keep the fiction, 
the real-life tales of oppression and its 
alternatives, the wacky art & kinky sex. 


What do you think we 

should get rid of, or 

at least de-emphasize? 









Whining & Anger: 






JP, CA: There is one thing I would like to 
see de-emphasized in PW: articles that use 
SEX as a prop. I can think of an example for 
this -the short piece called "Silicon Valley 
Girl." It was clever, and I can see how one 
could tie it in with the idea of computers, 

technology and business being a substitute 
for sex (and love, too), and perhaps I'm 
being a little too Victorian here, but ulti- 
mately, it gives the magazine (for me, 
anyway) a vaguely junior high school feel- 
ing, which takes away from the overall 
quality of the magazine. Another example of 
this would be the graphics of women with 
enormous and/or naked breasts, which oc- 
casionally are sprinkled throughout the 
magazine. I usually can see the point for 
including them, but they seem to alienate a 
lot of people, judging by the letters page, 
and, it seems a bit creepy. I realize the 
magazine is produced for a more sophisti- 
cated audience than the Cleaver family, but 
sometimes, I think it goes a bit too far. I'll 
climb down off my biodegradable soap box 
now, as it is starting to feel shaky. The damn 
thing is degrading, as is my point, I think. 

B.S., NY: I think you should de- 
emphasize, get rid of, or re-orientate the 
anti-technology bent. Technology under 
imperialism is certainly fucked up, but 
technology and science have no inherent 
ideology; it's the ideology and class interest 
that make technology good or bad. So, 
anyway, I'm not that fond of the anti- 
technology aspect of your magazine. Also, 
the anarchist/nihilist aspect I'm not that 
crazy about, because, like existentialism and 
social democracy (what that term signifies 
today, not as Lenin used it), these ultimately 
capitulate to imperialism. Along the same 
lines, it seems to me that PW is in danger of 
moving in the direction of wanting in the 
system, instead of wanting ou<. 

T.C.B.: De-emphasize ideological rants; 
present facts, reports, news briefs, first- 
person stories, and let readers draw their 
own conclusions. 

Anon4:, ??: De-emphasize turgid ideolo- 
gy. You had an article recently about 
working for a clothing designer. The details 
of what it was like to work there were 
fascinating, but that was preceded by a page 
of ideology telling us what to think about 
what was to come. I hate that. I know what 
to think already. 

A.R., NY: The fiction and poetry are 
dreadful, and I think I've figured out why: 
there are a lot of places where writers can 
send good fiction and poetry, many of them 
even paying, while only PW would publish a 
Tale of Toil. So you get a range, I'd 
imagine, of non-fiction from the wretched to 
the sublime, but only the wretched not-to- 
be-submitted-elsewhere fiction. Occasional- 
ly you print a good poem, actually. But can 
the short stories. Let them eat The New 

E.W., NY: Definitely de-emphasize po- 
etry, but that's just me. I find most poetry 
self-indulgent and obscure to all but the 
writer and the writer's close friends. I guess 
you can tell I have a problem with poetry, 

L.O., NY: I really wish there was more 
compassion in PW. It bothers me when 
writers make fun of uncool people at work. 
It seems so smug . . . 


irJSiDi A pty SHE vva; 

ihe BN0LE)5iy 

T E •< T U A L. 

S £ y. ^AL /»g"ouT 

I S r^ 

P O S 7 ' M O I I R N I S /^ 

What would you like to see happen in PW in 
the future? 

AnonS, NV: Transform the '80s rather 
than reproduce the '60s ("Let's go, Gang!") 

L.O., NY: You'd keep the big issues in 
focus (like health care, the environment, 
everything you've had as a theme is great) 
— you'd stay funny and free from rat-race 
delusions — but incorporate a kinder, gentler 
lens to see thru. Please no more artsies 
putting down the Philistines. Please more 
women, maybe something serious on non- 
violence, a little Boddhisattva conscious- 

W.W., NY: I would like to see discussion 
on how one survives under Capital while 
being opposed to it. How do we live and not 
always be spurious opposition? 

P.D., CA: More marxist analysis. 

J.B., lA: Become more radical as North 
America moves from this pre-fascist age and 
develops into all-out total fascism and/or 
economic, ecological and political crisis. 

S.S., CA: I'd like to see PW deal more 
with labor— movement/ issues. 

M.I., CA: A school/education issue 
would be groovy. Students like me don't 
even get paid (as if money is important) for 
our work. We're very oppressed. I might even 
contribute if I have the energy. I always like 
theme issues. 

B.D., CA: Increase focus on children's 
concerns & viewpoints. 

J.S., TX: 1 believe the basic premise of 
your magazine is quite sound. That is, your 
emphasis on the nuts-and-bolts of post- 
industrial society . . . fills a much-needed 
gap in current discourse; I find it hard to 
believe that a full 40% -I believe I am 

recalling the correct figure here — of the 
U.S. work-force is involved in some kind of 
labor having to do with symbol/information 
manipulation, and the number is growing. 
(Meanwhile, production of physical goods is 
decreasing in U.S.). Yet you don't see much 
comment on the phenomenon (in other 
venues) at least none commensurate with its 

I guess what I am trying to say is that I 
find it highly distressing that this sort of 
work, as labor, as production, is going so 
unnoticed. Left publications abound, but 
they all seem to have to do with aesthetics, 
epistemological squabbles, 3rd World 
struggles, etc. etc. Not that these are 
unimportant (sexual politics, race, environ- 
ment are also important), and that you 
should ignore them (even if you could), but 
it seems to me that PW% niche is precisely to 
bring these questions into focus through the 
lens of late capit£ilism's new modes of 
production and domination. (Always, natu- 
rally, in keeping with your accessible and 
no-bullshit style). ... I personally find 
well-crafted articles which explore the per- 
verse vicissitudes of this kind of [consumer- 
ist] society irresistible. Nothing fascinates 
me more that a clinical account of the 
development and marketing of another 
demented article of mass distraction. Again, 
a lot of rags do a lot of analysis of cultural 
phenomena, presumably because they are 
written by academics who have only to go 
see the movie or the place of architecture 
and then go back to campus to digest (and 
interpret through their particular "school"); 
what I look for in PW is a more behind-the- 
scenes account of the production of such 

J.E., TX: I love your interaction with 
readers in the Letters — would like to see 
more deeply personal responses to the 
ironies and cruelties of techno-modernity 
like the Los Alamos article cited above, or 
Morales' "Pido Castigo." 

A.R., NY: In the future PW should try 
(but how?) to be more widely based geogra- 
phically. What's going on in the Midwest? 
Maybe you should do an exchange program 
with The Mill Hunk Herald or something. I 
don't care so much about the East Coast 
because I live here already. But the South? 
More about Mexico? What about the Esprit 
sweatshops in Korea? and so on and so on. 

L.O., WA: I'd like to see PW published 
on a more predictable basis. I never know 
when to expect it or if there will be a next 
one. (That's why I was apathetic about your 
questionnaire. If I took the time to answer 
it, would you ever do anything with it?) 

Anon5, AZ: Continue and expand, bash 
New Age mentality. More issues per year? 
How about something about "Birkenstocks 
as image not politics?" 

I.E., MI: I would like to see you raise 
your standards and improve your graphic 
design. I'm not saying this because I want 
you to become glossy and "glitzy," but 
because I want you to continue publishing. 

J.U., CA: More issues, longer issues- 
though I realize that for an uncompromising 
magazine that takes no ads and doesn't have 
a paid staff, it's a lot easier to talk about than 
to do. 

Ace Backwards, CA: Everybody at PW 
gets big and famous so you can all quit your 
dull jobs and become big-time publishing 

d'd [id d d d d d d [i [i [i 



n the fifties, the great national obsession was 
Communist subversion. In the eighties, the threat is 
more diffuse. There is terrorism, child kidnaping, 
drugs, and finally, AIDS. Our present enemies' lack 
of concrete human identity only adds to the 
circle- the-wagons effect. The outside world is per- 
ceived as dangerous, populated by vaguely defined 
miscreants who lead nonconformists into moral 
debasement. It is the genius of American culture to 
promise freedom while representing all but the most 
conventional materialistic lifestyles as repulsive. 
Choice is restricted not by repression but by the 


inculcation of a limited worldview that sees dissi- 
dence as deviance. 

In a sense, AIDS is different because a major 
threat caused by an uncontrollable natural agent 
really is lurking out there. Several hundred thou- 
sand to several million people, mostly young men, 
could well die as the epidemic runs its course, so 
we're talking about losses equivalent to a major war. 

AIDS' potential impact is indeed substantial, but 
it does have definite limits. Among heterosexuals 
outside injection drug circles, the disease is little 
known, and among lesbians, sexually transmitted 
AIDS is virtually nonexistent. 


Nevertheless, how a threat is per- 
ceived is paramount to the response to 
it, and AIDS has been viewed through 
the same jittery lens as has every other 
mass panic in the post-War era. AIDS 
easily fits into contemporary sexual 
insecurities spawned by changing sexual 
mores, the breakdown of first extended 
and then nuclear families, and the 
emergence of women as an economic 
force independent of men. Government 
officials and conservative ideologues, 
with the mass media's help, have had no 
trouble creating a new panic by depict- 
ing AIDS as a limitless, universal men- 
ace brought on by loose living, a 
punishment meted out to deviants. 
Listen to us, the doctors, politicians and 
preachers say in their various languag- 
es. Let us lay down a clean, moral path 
for you to follow. 

Here the evolution of the panic devi- 
ates from its usual pattern, for progres- 
sives have joined this eager celebration 
of AIDS as generalized apocalypse in a 
bid to protect gay men from further 
ostracism (no one seems to worry much 
about the reputation of drug addicts, 
who have no political clout). Progres- 
sives put forward their own experts to 
instruct us on the politically correct way 
to interpret the allegedly all- 
encompassing threat, and do not hesi- 
tate to prescribe safe, proper ways to 
alter our sex lives. But you cannot 
distort reality for the sake of political 
convenience, no matter how laudable 
your goals. A politically correct position 
must first of all accept the truth, no 
matter how uncomfortable that truth 
may be. 

More distressing than this analytical 
lapse is that the broader, long-term 
issues surrounding the epidemic are 
shrugged off, if not given up as lost 
causes. These issues revolve around the 
question of power: How much control 
the individual has over her own body 
and sexuality. The proclamations of the 
experts from both left and right impede 
the grassroots discussion and the open, 
positive attitude toward our erotic im- 
pulses necessary for curbing AIDS. The 
failure of anti-syphilis campaigns to 
eradicate that sickness is fair warning 
that technocratic programs alone are 
incapable of stopping sexually transmit- 
ted diseases. 

The Erotic Fights Back 

In the early eighties, human immu- 
nodeficiency virus (or HIV, the virus at 
the center of the AIDS syndrome) 
spread with frightening speed through 
the national gay community. Half the 

gay men in San Francisco, for example, 
had become infected by 1984. A whole 
slew of studies have indicated that 
receptive anal intercourse without con- 
doms and with a casual, changing set of 
sex partners provided the main avenue 
for HIVs spread.' 

Not all gay men by any means 
engaged in this combination, but those 
who did can hardly be condemned. A 
rambunctious sexuality was an import- 
ant experience for gays emerging from 
years of repression. It played a major 
role in building a collective culture 
celebratory of gayness, a culture that in 
the end had the strength and adaptabili- 
ty to control the epidemic once its 
dynamics were understood. 

In the past four years, HIV transmis- 
sion among gay men has plummeted to 
almost zero.^ The gay community used 
to experience about one new HIV 
infection per year for each old one, and 
the number of HIV+ individuals dou- 
bled every twelve months or less. Now 
there is approximately one new HIV 

Sexuality has 

been devalued 

as a positive 

social force 

by left and rig tit. 

infection per year for every 100 old 
ones. As people with HIV live far less 
than 100 years after infection (whether 
they come down with AIDS or not), the 
epidemic cannot possibly be self- 
sustaining under present conditions. 
The number of gay HIV carriers will 
gradually spiral down and so eventually 
will the number of gay AIDS cases. 
Indeed, the number of gay men diag- 
nosed with AIDS last year was no 
greater than it was in 1987, raising 
hopes that the epidemic might already 
be leveling off.' 

Safe sex educators like to take credit 
for this trend, but the situation is not 
that straightforward. One major con- 
tributing factor is that a large propor- 
tion of the 75% of gays nationally who 
are not infected* are people whose 
personal circumstances never exposed 
them to HIV very much. Based on 
anecdotal information, comparatively 
low-AIDS groups include both young 
and older gay men, gay rural residents, 
gay men in permanent monogamous 

relationships (lasting ten years or more), 
and to a certain extent, gay men who 
are politically active progressives. 

Be that as it may, it is true that in the 
gay community, generally, the inci- 
dence of anal sex and multiple partners 
is down substantially, while condom use 
is up.' Nevertheless, changes in sexual 
practice have taken place within a 
context that is quite foreign to the lists of 
proscriptions found in most safe sex 

The new sexual climate continues the 
celebratory, spontaneous atmosphere of 
the old through such institutions as 
telephone sex lines, underground sex 
parties, jerk-off clubs and erotic mas- 
sage. Particular attention has gone into 
maintaining open sex lives for those who 
are HIV positive. The many AIDS and 
HIV+ support groups are vehicles for 
establishing friendships and exploring 
sexual intimacy within the limits im- 
posed by the disease. For gay culture as 
a whole, there has been an increased 
public emphasis on relationship- 
building as part of the sexual experi- 
ence. Greater emotional bonding im- 
proves cooperation between lovers so 
that they act to prevent the spread of 
disease from one to the other. It also 
tends to decrease the number of sex 
partners people have. 

With these changes have come sharp 
declines in hepatitis B, syphilis, gonor- 
rhea and other sexually transmitted dis- 
eases (STDs).' This reduction has 
further inhibited the spread of AIDS. 
STDs' diminishing prevalence not only 
promotes better immune system func- 
tion—it also deprives HIV of ready 
access to infectable white blood cells by 
decreasing the frequency of anal and 
genital inflammation. 

Still, there remains plenty of unsafe 
sex out there. Surveys from around the 
country have indicated that a substantial 
fraction of gay men continue to disre- 
gard sexual risk-reduction measures at 
least some of the time. This fraction's 
size varies widely from one place to 
another, and can amount to half or 
more of the local gay population.' There 
is also the problem of condom leakage, 
found to occur 8% of the time in one 
study.' By no means is everyone abso- 
lutely protected all the time. But they 
don't have to be to stop AIDS. (See 

The environment in which AIDS 
flourished was alterable precisely be- 
cause the necessary changes were not all 
that dramatic. They did not attack the 


essence of gay sexuality. The drama 
comes from the innovative manner in 
which modifications were effected. In- 
dividual behavioral changes occurred as 
part of a community-wide response to 
the crisis. In San Francisco alone, some 
80 organizations, most relying heavily 
on volunteer labor, are devoted to 
various aspects of the epidemic, from 
meeting the personal needs of the ill to 
building a grassroots political move- 
ment. (Despite this community out- 
pouring, much remains to be done. 
Homeless activists like Bob Nelson of 
San Francisco Catholic Charities warn 
that 400-600 San Franciscans with 
AIDS or ARC have no place to go at 

Such personal empowerment is an- 
other essential element in the emerging 
popular alternative to the health-care 
establishment. Both on the streets and in 
the hospitals, the experts did not show 
much initial understanding of how to 
deal with the epidemic. Top-down pro- 
grams in which professional elites at- 
tempt to serve a client population stand 
little chance of adequately taking ac- 
count of gays' needs, considering the 
unforeseeable complexities of the AIDS 

dilemma. Lay participation at every 
level has proved vital to obstructing 

Overcoming AIDS has become a 
form of reaffirmation for the gay com- 
munity, a community whose basis is the 
very sexuality that has been blamed for 
the epidemic. Straight people may cas- 
tigate gay life as a wild, empty orgy, but 
they should instead admire the culture 
that has produced the sense of solidarity 
and personal competence needed for a 
compassionate, cohesive response to the 
epidemic. The response of straights was 
hardly so straightforward. 

Delusions on Every Side 

Two years ago last winter, media 
warnings about the onset of a hetero- 
sexual AIDS epidemic reached a cres- 
cendo. After a decade of experience 
with AIDS, however, it should have 
been clear that there would not be an 
explosive heterosexual AIDS crossover. 

The first U.S. citizens recognized as 
having AIDS actually were babies born 
in 1977 to presumably infected New 
York and San Francisco mothers.' The 
pattern after 1977 has been consistent: 
While AIDS took off among heterosex- 

The Ecology of a Disease 

An infectious microbe must overcome 
three obstacles for sickness to occur. 
The first is the hostile outside world: 
microbes have to find a way to travel 
from one person's body to another with- 
out being killed in the process. After 
landing, they confront an environment 
designed specifically to eliminate them. 
The impervious skin and the sticky 
mucous membranes covering the body's 
inner hnings are formidable physical 
barriers that normally ward off invad- 
ers. In addition, these protective layers 
contain antiseptic chemicals, symbiotic 
microorganisms, and white blood cells, 
all waiting to kill tarrying pathogens. 

For disease transmission to occur, the 
pathogen must find some weakness in 
this outer line of defense. Given the 
several billion years of evolution that 
have gone into making himians, there 
aren't many such weaknesses. They are 
frequently the result of injury, polluted 
air, or other illnesses. Never has it 
happened that the entire human race 
has come into contact with a germ and 
that transmission has been automatic 
after exposure. Always, a series of 
chance events induces susceptibility in a 

uals who shared IV drug needles as well 
as gay men, the number of straight 
people with sexually contracted AIDS 
has remained more or less four per cent 
of each year's total. 

As of May, 1989, the government has 
counted a cumulative total of 4,128 
heterosexual contact cases. 1,370 of 
these were so categorized only because 
the people involved came from countries 
like Haiti where heterosexual AIDS is 
thought to be common. The remaining 
2758 (2049 women and 709 men) were 
mainly long-term lovers of intravenous 
drug users.'* This 2758 figure might 
really be an overcount because some 
people will not admit drug use or 
homosexuality to investigators. It is 
noteworthy that New York, as of late 
1988, with the largest cluster of HIV- 
infected women in the country, had 
attributed a mere seven cases of AIDS 
in men to heterosexual relations." 

The still fragmentary statistics for 
HIV carriers do not reveal any surprises 
on the horizon, either. First-time blood 
donors represent one large, "low- risk" 
population segment that is regularly 
tested. These donors are testing positive 
for HIV at the rate of 0.042%. For all 

It is also a rare, talented microbe that 
can infect somebody once it gets inside. 
There it encounters the human immune 
system, which is about as sophisticated 
as you can get without conscious, intelli- 
gent direction. The immune system is 
composed of a set of interacting compo- 
nents. Learned, repeatable responses on 
the part of white blood cells attentive to 
foreign protein (antigen) are an integral 
part of the system: specialized chemical 
antibodies as well as sensitized "killer 
T-cells" are developed that direct over- 
all immune activity at persistent intrud- 
ers. Antibodies also coat viruses to keep 

g hmited subset of the population. 

them from sticking to their target cells. 
Killer Ts can rip apart cells they recog- 
nize as already containing virus. 

Nonspecific responses include fever 
and inflammatory chemicals, which cre- 
ate a toxic environment for bacteria. 
Interferon secreted by virus-infected 
cells and the killer Ts alerts cells to 
make antiviral changes in their metabo- 
lism. Meanwhile, the body is infused 
with amoeba-like white blood cells wait- 
ing to swallow up harmful intruders. 
There are 20 to 25 bilhon of these cells 
circulating in the blood alone. 

If it is the rare combination of microbe 
evolution and personal accident that 
allows a single individual to get sick, the 
odds that conditions are right for an 
epidemic are even slimmer. Not only do 
some susceptible people initially have to 
come in contact with the germ in ques- 
tion, but each infected person must pass 
the disease along to more than one other 
person. Altering conditions just enough 
for the average rate of transmission to . 
fall below one new case for each old one 
will make an epidemic gradually peter 
out. This is often forgotten during dis- 
cussions of AIDS. Stopping the AIDS 
epidemic does not require that every- 
one have 100 percent protection. 

— Green Fuchsia 

LgJ)-g.0.g 9 9 9J».9.9 1> fl 01 


blood donors, HIV prevalence de- 
creased from .03% to .01% as previ- 
ously infected people were weeded out 
of the pool by the testing. In follow-up 
interviews, 80 to 90 percent of the 
positives acknowledge homosexual con- 
tact, IV-drug use, or sex with such drug 
users. '^ Considering the understandable 
reluctance to give out this sort of 
personal information and the number of 
testing errors, this suggests that there is 
little present HIV transmission outside 
gay and addict circles. 

The reasons for HIVs limited heter- 
osexual spread are undoubtedly rooted 
in environmental restraints similar to 
those that have slowed its transmission 
among gay men in the past few years. 
Heterosexuals' usual preference for va- 
ginal and oral sex is in itself strong 
prevention to AIDS transmission. Even 
without using condoms, the odds for 
HIV transmission through vaginal in- 
tercourse average only one out of a 
thousand, and for oral intercourse, the 
chances are essentially nil." Both these 
practices apparently are much less likely 
to spread HIV than anal intercourse is. 

In addition, straights generally have 
had fewer lovers than gay men. When 
the San Francisco Men's Health Study 
started to investigate the prevalence of 
AIDS among the city's men in 1984, 
homosexuals in the 1,000-strong popu- 
lation sample had a lifetime median of 
200 sex partners whereas heterosexuals' 
lifetime median was 20. One indicative 
1988 national survey found that 76% of 
the men and 85% of the women report- 
ed zero or one lover in the previous 
year. '* The rate of sexually transmitted 
disease has also historically been much 
lower among straights than gays. Sy- 
philis, whose genital lesions are thought 
to promote the spread of HIV, was only 
one-tenth as common among heterosex- 
uals before its recent reduction among 
gay men. (It is very worrisome that the 
overall U.S. syphilis rate shot up 25% 
in the late eighties even as the gay rate 
went down. As usual, the heavily non- 
white poor are bearing the brunt of the 

It is true AIDS has ravaged straights 
in Central Africa, and the apparent 
heterosexual transmission there is fre- 
quently advanced as a portent of things 
to come in industrialized nations. But it 
is not unusual for a sickness to behave 
one way in Africa and another in the 
North. Last year, an especially reveal- 
ing paper in the Journal of the Ameri- 
can Medical Association'^ described 

how marked the difference in medical 
circumstances can be and its relevance 
for AIDS. The researchers found that 
antibodies to such diseases as toxoplas- 
mosis, syphilis and hepatitis were com- 
mon in both "healthy" equatorial Afri- 
cans and American male homosexuals. 
The two groups also had matching 
immune system aberrations, whereas a 
control group of American heterosexual 
men possessed relatively unperturbed 
immune systems, and had experienced 
much less exposure to immune- 
compromising microbes. Antibodies to 
HIV were present in six percent of the 
non-AIDS Africans, 22% of the U.S. 
gay men, and none of the straight control 
group in the U.S. 

Highlighting one aspect of African 
underdevelopment, another recent 
JAMA study" described how one pedi- 
atric ward in Zaire alone was responsi- 
ble for at least 600 HIV infections per 
year through contaminated blood trans- 
fusions. Most of the children were in the 
hospital because their malaria had not 
received proper initial treatment. 

Living conditions in Central Africa 
actually are analogous in major ways 
with those of U.S. gays and junkies. 
This is reflected in the groups' similar 
white blood cell counts and record of 
sickness. The AIDS crisis typifies how 
marginalization makes communities 
vulnerable to disease by confining their 
members in stressful environments. 
Once a microbe arises to take advantage 
of their unprotected position, everyone 
is susceptible, and the medical and 
social resources needed to adapt to the 
predicament are not available. Mean- 

while the privileged, whose freedom 
depends on the restraint imposed on the 
others, sit back oblivious, figuring that 
the sick "had it coming." 

Of course, the obvious response to 
this indifference is, "Aha, but you can 
get it too!" and it is precisely this easy, if 
fallacious, route that progressive- 
leaning activists have followed in their 
quite justified effort to get the world to 
pay attention to AIDS' depredations. 
"Only when the nation realizes that HIV 
doesn't discriminate will it donate the 
resources to fight it," argues Mervyn 
Silverman, "We need to mainstream, 
but not normalize the disease." Silver- 
man is head of the American Federation 
of AIDS Research and former director 
of the San Francisco Health Depart- 
ment. From the left end of the AIDS 
movement comes Donna Minkowitz, 
who writes in the New York-based 
newsweekly The Guardian, "Framing 
the issues in terms of 'endangerment of 
homosexuals' implies society as a whole 
need not be concerned with the fact that 
tens of thousands of gay men have 
already died of AIDS. . . The question 
also willfully ignores the fact that thou- 
sands of heterosexuals in the U.S. have 
already contracted AIDS. . ." (Here 
Minkowitz is willfully ignoring that few 
of those thousands of heterosexuals with 
AIDS contracted the illness sexually.) 

"AIDS is an equal opportunity dis- 
ease," trumpets Cindy Patton, who is 
Minkowitz's apparent intellectual men- 
tor, in the first sentence of the widely 
applauded booklet, "Making It: A 
Women's Guide to Sex in the Age of 
AIDS," coauthored with Janis Kelley. 


There follows the standard enumeration 
of sex practices, from anal intercourse to 
water sports, paired with the appropri- 
ate latex barrier to use for protection — 
condoms, dental dams, surgical gloves 
and the like. Patton and Kelly also 
include a section on how all this rigma- 
role might be eroticized. That is again 
standard fare, but the authors distin- 
guish themselves by their righteous use 
of feminist and nonjudgmental language 
to attain the higher moral ground in the 
AIDS discussion. Basically what they've 
done is to adopt some of the more 
radical gay safe sex educational strate- 
gies for a wider audience on the theory 
that everyone has the same relationship 
to the epidemic. 

High pressure safe sex campaigns 
may have had a role to play in the gay 
community. Gay men were faced with 
an emergency around AIDS as well as 
an alarming upsurge of sexually trans- 
mitted diseases in general. Less a formal 
campaign from outside, AIDS preven- 
tion became a process of self-education 
undertaken by a cohesive community 
with a sexually celebratory culture. As 
we have seen, that group process result- 
ed in a considerable elaboration on the 
original safer-sex proscriptions. Gay 
men working on their own initiative 
came up with new sexual practices 
which, constraining though they may 
be, stopped HIV transmission without 
altering gays' overall approach to sex- 
uality. "Safe sex" as presented by its 
advocates was not by itself a solution to 
AIDS, but at least it had the value of 
making gays aware that they could 
make specific, limited modifications that 
would interrupt AIDS' momentum. 

But the heterosexual milieu differs 
sharply from the gay one. Straights in 
no sense form a united community. Not 
only are they split between men and 
women, but heterosexuality never forms 
part of their group identification since 
they see it as the norm. The failure to 
understand that heterosexuality repre- 
sents a series of choices as much as 
homosexuality means that straight sex- 
ual customs are evolving blindly, with- 
out clearly expounded goals or a clear 
break with past beliefs. Hetero culture 
remains much less open about sexual 
matters than gay culture is, nor is it very 
supportive of sexual difficulties, espe- 
cially those arising from sexual experi- 

More directly relevant for the safe sex 
question, the physical problems con- 
fronting straight sex also vary consider- 
ably from those that figure in the gay 

world. Straights' major universal prob- 
lem is, naturally, unwanted pregnancy. 
Generally speaking, sexually transmit- 
ted diseases present a troubling persist- 
ence, with AIDS in fact a remote threat. 
However, some medically indigent het- 
erosexual subgroups are menaced by 
STDs and AIDS to a much greater 

It is not surprising that straights have 
not been very responsive to safe sex 
advice. A poll in 1988 by the govern- 
ment's National Center for Health Sta- 
tistics found that nearly 95% of Ameri- 
cans quite rightly thought that they had 

little chance of getting AIDS and that 
only a few percent knew anyone well 
who was infected with HIV." Survey 
after survey has revealed only small 
changes in heterosexuals' behavior. A 
San Francisco AIDS Foundation study 
of straights released last winter found 
condom use up 26% over two years ago 
but still fairly uncommon. In a city 
where AIDS consciousness is very high, 
most respondents nevertheless did not 
feel targeted by the epidemic and ranked 
"protected vaginal intercourse" low in 

On a personal note, San Francisco 
sexpert Bernie Zilbergeld laments, "In 
all my lecture tours, I've never met a 
person who has used a dental dam 
twice ... A lot of safe sex workers burn 
out fast because there are more failures 
than successes." 

Predictions of an AIDS apocalypse 
did shake loose huge sums of money 
from the previously reluctant state, but 
hundreds of millions of the appropria- 
tions are being wasted on testing and 
educating the wrong people. Needle- 
sharing drug users, the heterosexual 
group really affected by AIDS, have 
been largely ignored. At the same time, 
elementary guarantees of the civil and 
social rights of HIV carriers have yet to 
be enacted. 

Research and treatment programs 
remain in disarray with the most obvi- 
ous therapies taking years to test out. As 
Mobilization against AIDS director 
Paul Boneberg has declared in the San 
Francisco Sentinel, "The government's 
plan on AIDS is a strategy of doom . . . 
The projections of death, as now ad- 
vanced, do not need to occur. . . The 
funding goes into hospice care and into 
long-term research, because they as- 
sume that [the current HIV-infected] 
will die. What we're trying to do is put 
the emphasis on treatments that can 
keep people alive." 

At present, the danger is that without 
a dramatic rise in heterosexual AIDS or 
other sensational news, the public will 
tire of the whole AIDS issue, and little 
new effort will be put into fighting the 
epidemic. Already Randy Shilts has 
complained that, "AIDS is out of vogue 
as [a] news topic. . . Coverage of the 
epidemic is now at its lowest point in 
three years."" 

Even as a means of taking the collec- 
tive onus for AIDS off gay men, the safe 
sex formula for sexual conduct has had a 
dubious record. Persons engaging in the 
now reprehensible "high risk activities" 
are easily linked to the "high risk groups" 



in which, as everyone remembers, 
AIDS first appeared. An atmosphere of 
panic over a putative worst epidemic in 
history makes the logic of quarantine, if 
not of murder by neglect, seem compel- 
ling as a means of self-defense. "Many 
health education messages aim precisely 
at creating fear of AIDS and feelings of 
vulnerability to it. Such messages may 
increase support for coercion as well as 
foster preventive behavior," warned Dr. 
Robert Allard in the April, 1989 Ameri- 
can Journal of Public Health. Hence the 
anti-gay backlash over AIDS continues 
unabated despite all the misplaced em- 
phasis on AIDS in the straight commu- 

In California, for example, right- 
wing authoritarians are parading an 
apparently endless series of AIDS pro- 
positions before the voters. With meas- 
ures like mandatory testing and segre- 
gation in the balance, only intense 
campaigning has succeeded in defeating 

Across the country, reported cases of 
gay-bashing are up drastically — with the 
official count of course representing 

■^ '^f 

only the visible portion of a horrifying 
phenomenon. "AIDS has provided a 
green light to the bashers and bigots," 
Kevin Bernill of the National Gay and 
Lesbian Task Force told Time maga- 
zine last year, "It's a convenient excuse 
for those who hate us." 

Safe and Sorry 

Complimenting the gay community 
for having "moved from an ethos of 
sexual liberation to one of responsibility 
for others," as the progressive film 
magazine Jump Cut did when intro- 
ducing a section on safe sex, lays bare 
safe sex's more insidious implications. 
The concept of gays' particular sexual 
stigma is countered by resort to a 
concept of global sexual irresponsibility, 
and all the old sexual bugaboos are 
back. The association of sex with disease 
and the assumption that others are 
inherendy untrustworthy makes sexual- 
ity a clumsy business at best, to be 
avoided as much as possible. The tradi- 
tional dream of constructing a safe 
haven with a life-long monogamous 
partner becomes a Utopian fantasy. 

People cannot cope on their own. 

By granting primacy to values like 
"safety" and "responsibility," this time 
from a medicalized perspective, safe sex 
as a moral code places renewed empha- 
sis on the role of experts in regulating 
sexual expression. The consequent 
technocratic ethic is insensitive to the 
historical background of its surround- 
ings. It focuses on simple issues of 
personal hygiene at the expense of the 
complex obstacles capitalist society 
places in the way of human intimacy. 
And by purveying an exaggerated fear 
of disease so as to assert their authority, 
safe sex proponents inhibit the risky but 
necessary sexual exploration needed to 
resolve wrenching erotic confusions 
made all the more formidable by un- 
controlled social change. 

Specifics of the extent to which safe 
sex rule-makers' intervention becomes 
clumsy — and contradictory — are not 
hard to find. Last year, Drs. Norman 
Hurst and Stephen HuUey of the Center 
for AIDS Prevention Studies (a liberal 
think tank at UC-San Francisco) made 
quite an impression with their article 
"Preventing the Heterosexual Spread of 
AIDS: Are We Giving Our Patients the 
Best Advice?"^' The doctors' starting 
point was condoms' 10% failure rate as 
a contraceptive, which they assumed 
would carry over to AIDS prevention. 
They then calculated the risk of HIV 
transmission for sexual encounters with 
individuals of various sexual and drug- 
use histories, comparing the chances of 
transmission with and without con- 
doms. Displaying one-encounter chan- 
ces such as 1 in 500 million (partner 
lacking a history of high-risk behavior 
and no condom) and 1 in 5000 (HIV + 
partner and condom). Hurst and Hul- 
ley's probability table indicated that 
condoms decrease one's risk of AIDS 
only by a factor of ten whereas "carefully 
choosing" lovers of low risk provides a 
5000-fold increase in protection. 

"This means not only asking potential 
partners about their present and past 
behavior but also getting to know the 
person and his or her friends and family 
well enough to know whether to believe 
the answers. This would rule out sex 
with prostitutes, casual sex, and indeed, 
much of what many people consider to 
be normal heterosexual behavior," the 
doctors blithely conclude — as if the 
social environment has no part in deter- 
mining sexual mores, which can then be 
changed with a wave of a magic wand 
according to medical concerns! 

Hurst, HuUey, and those of similar 


opinion are criticized by other safe sex 
writers for imagining that anyone can 
ever be sure of their lover's past history. 
But assuming that the heterosexual 
AIDS threat is a credible one and the 
safe sex devices an appropriate re- 
sponse, why do straights use them so 
infrequently? Why in fact does high risk 
sex continue among gays? Merely pro- 
viding information must not in itself be 
sufficient to change people's practice. 

An emerging target in the struggle to 
increase safe sex's popularity is the 
combining of drugs and alcohol with 
sexual activity. Many studies show a 
large correlation between the use of 
intoxicants during sex and high-risk 
behavior.^' The San Francisco AIDS 
Foundation, for one, has begun an ad 
campaign suggesting that gay men stay 
sober during sex if drugs and alcohol 
cloud their judgment. This developing 
trend also has its magic wand effect, in 
as much as it deflects consideration of 
the role getting stoned plays in enhanc- 
ing sexual intimacy on both an emo- 
tional and physical level. It is hard to see 
how intoxicants will be banished from 
sex by medical fiat, at least without first 
revolutionizing personal relations. That 
is something people have to do for 
themselves; programs dominated by 
professional elites do not allow for the 
popular discussion required to articulate 
human needs. The current approach of 
piling inhibition on top of inhibition 
seems destined rather to increase alcohol 
and drug use during sex. 

The hegemonic moral position safe 
sex specialists are appropriating for 
themselves does originate in a desire to 
protect sexual pluralism. Sexual plural- 
ism is not the same thing as sexual 
freedom, though. Without that ethos of 
liberation so lightly dismissed by Jump 
Cut and company, our erotic nature is 
straight-jacketed by the preconceived 
dominant idea of what's good for us. We 
might end up feeling safe, but we most 
assuredly will end up feeling sorry, too. 

The Author Exposes Himself 

But I don't want to end up feeling 
sorry, at least not because I succumbed 
to repressive rituals based on a phantom 
threat. Certainly, there is no need to 
scare me to get me concerned about 
AIDS. Although I don't feel in personal 
danger, I see how much I have to lose 
from the retrograde influence AIDS is 
having on the long struggle over sexual 

And who am I, really, and just what 

is it that I see? I'm merely a straight man 
who somehow has fallen into a de facto 
monogamous love affair of 20 years 
duration. I think that life is passing me 
by without the wide range of relation- 
ships—including sexual ones — that I 
need to provide a warm, nurturing and 
stimulating environment for my devel- 
opment as a human being. Instead of 
acting as a source of strength for myself 
and those around me, my erotic energy 
has been bottled up by socioeconomic 
forces that I find myself unable to 

I am not alone in this. The monoga- 
mous nuclear family has become a mass 
ideal only in the last fifty years. Histori- 
cally, monogamy has been maintained 
by patriarchal domination and econom- 
ic necessity. Men and women alike flee 
it whenever they get a chance. Now they 
say that in the sixties there was a sexual 

revolution, but all I see is a change from 
lifelong to serial monogamy. We have 
wound up with less opportunity for deep 
personal relationships. Our sexuality, 
instead of .serving to cut through our 
isolation, has been twisted as never 
before by the still preponderant capital- 
ist culture into just another marketing 
gimmick. The status quo continues to 
hold us in its tight embrace. Ironically, 
there isn't even as much opportunity for 
actual sex as before since we often don't 
have steadily available partners. 

They also say that there was the 
liberation of women, and there has been 
a massive increase in the amount of 
wage-earning work women do. Typi- 
cally, in societies where women's securi- 
ty is independent of their husbands, 
divorce rates are high and female sex- 
uality is recognized as existing in its own 
right, apart from fertility. This is be- 
cause patriarchal inheritance lines are 

not important, and male possessiveness 
has less to do with women's decisions 
about their lives. With the separation of 
fertility and sexuality comes greater 
acceptance of homosexuality, too. 

But I see that women haven't even 
achieved equality, let alone liberation. 
In the parodies of the patriarchal family 
model we create for ourselves, domestic 
violence and sexual abuse are amazingly 
common. Rather than defending the 
family from external dangers, male 
authority allows men to bring their 
tensions into the domestic circle with 
oft-times explosive results. At least we 
talk about these issues more than we 
used to, although we have no way to 
resolve them. 

Women especially have bitter tales to 
tell of betrayal and abandonment when 
those fragile family entities break up. 
They frequently are stuck raising the 
kids alone, and sometimes have to care 
simultaneously for their elderly parents. 
Support from the kids' fathers and 
society at large, which doesn't even pay 
women as much as men, is inadequate 
to say the least. It is an odd twist of fate 
that under the present order "feminism" 
has come to imply the "feminization of 

Talking about sexual liberation with- 
out gender equality is ridiculous. There 
is no liberation under m2de supremacy, 
only a masculine fantasy about getting 
screwed a lot. The concept of more 
fulfilling relationships is lost, and the 
sexual revolution is stalled in its tracks. 
That's precisely what's happened in our 

From what I can see, homosexuals are 
the only ones who have tried to live 
differently in a conscious manner. Their 
understanding of their oppression led 
them to question the heterosexual 
world's basic assumptions about sexual- 
ity and to use their own sexuality as a 
basis for bringing themselves together. 
The degree to which they succeeded is 
beside the point: Gays and lesbians are 
heroes in the struggle to create a loving 
society, and that heroism has never been 
properly appreciated by straights. Now 
gay men have become martyrs, and 
they're dying for all of us. The decima- 
tion of gay culture would condemn us all 
to continue living lives marked out for 
us by capitalism's manipulative materi- 
"alist morality. Surely the diversion of 
the gay movement's attention from sex- 
ual politics to AIDS already is having an 
impact on the abortion controversy at its 
present critical juncture. 


As I stumble on to my inevitable end, 
I cling to a vision of how it should all be 
different, for the acceptance of the erotic 
as central to civilization is the hallmark 
of a free people. Free people live in a 
society without elites. Articulation and 
realization of citizens' aspirations occur 
as part of a unified group process in 
which everyone participates as equals. 
In the absence of a ruling class with 
established interests to defend, the ex- 
ploration of human wants emerges as 
the ultimate social function. Of course, 
exploring the limits of erotic desire plays 
a vital role here. 

A free society is antimaterialistic. It is 
not enslaved by a work ethic, and 
play — above all, sexual play — 
constitutes a major form of social bond- 
ing, as a means of building intimacy 
between individuals and as an affirma- 
tion of belonging to humanity as a 
whole. There is indeed lots of fucking 
— and fucking without regard to the old 
bourgeois strictures on gender roles, 
monogamy or the unequal assignment 
of power. A free society grants the social 

significance of this activity and is per 
force an eroticized society. 

There will always be risks associated 
with sexuality. Emotional intimacy cre- 
ates the possibility of betrayal of trust 
just as physical intimacy creates an easy 
pathway for germs, as well as sperm. 
The emotional perils are the purview of 
morality; the physical ones figure there 
only secondarily. A morality of empower- 
ment is required that guides people to 
act in an honest, supportive way to- 
wards one another. Such a moral cli- 
mate would enable us to control the 
amount of risk we let into our lives and 
greatly obviate the physical dangers sex- 
uality poses. I'm talking about some- 
thing more akin to safe love than safe sex. 

Should people get in trouble anyway 
— and they will — a free society brings to 
bear its best facilities, medical and 
otherwise, on what it perceives as a 
major communal, not individual, fail- 
ure. A disease like AIDS should never 
have the chance to spread wildly. It 
ought to be contained and overwhelmed 
through that concerned and compas- 

sionate manner with which empowered 
human beings treat each other. 

. . . Ach, AIDS. With the advent of 
the epidemic, the people most likely to 
examine these vistas have retreated. 
Desperately building flimsy disease- 
based moral codes, they too are pro- 
moting human mistrust and self-hatred. 
AIDS has dramatically focused atten- 
tion on the question: How much risk is 
sex worth? And from all corners of the 
political map the answer comes; Not 
much. Human sexuality has been de- 
valued as a positive social force, and the 
hazards encountered in its expression 
are now considered an immutable part 
of its nature, not the inspiration for 
radical transformation of human rela- 

So weep for me and weep for you, 
and weep for us all, every one of us 
victims of AIDS. Weep for what is and 
what might have been. 

But don't get too sad — it might yet be. 
In fact, it has to be. 

— by Green Fuchsia 

Notes for Safe and Sorry 

1. For Example: Winkelstein W. et al., 
Sexual Practices and Risk of Infection by the 
Human Immunodeficiency Virus: The San Fran- 
cisco Men's Health Study, Journal of the American 
Medical Association, 1/16/87, pp. 321-25. Kingsley 
L. et al., Risk Factors for Seroconversion to 
Human Immunodeficiency Virus among Male 
Homosexuals: Results from the Multicenter 
AIDS Cohort Study, The Lancet, 2/14/87, pp. 

2. Winkelstein W., San Francisco Men's 
Health Study: Continued Decline in Human 
Immunodeficiency Virus Seroconversion among 
Heterosexual/Bisexual Men, American Journal of 
Public Health, 12/88, pp. 1472-74. Centers for 
Disease Control, Human Immunodeficiency Vi- 
rus Infection in the United States: A Review of 
Current Knowledge, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly 
Report, Supplement 6, 2/18/87, pp. 1-48. 

3. Moss A. and Bacchetti P., Incubation 
Period of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome 
in San Francisco, Nature, 3/16/89, pp. 351-53. 
Perelman D., Drop Likely in Gays' AIDS Cases, 
San Fraruisco Chronicle, 3/16/89, p. 1 . 

4. Centers for Disease Control, op cit. , p. 41 . 

5. Stall R. et al., Behavioral Risk Reduction 
for Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection 
among Gay and Bisexual Men, American Psycholo- 
gist, 11/88, pp. 878-85. 

6. San Francisco Department of Public 
Health, Sexually Transmitted Diseases in San 
Francisco: Changes in Incidence 1984-1988, San 
Francisco Epidemiological Bulletin, 4/89, pp. 1-5. 
Centers for Disease Control, Changing Patterns 
of Groups at High Risk for Hepatitis B in the 
United States, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly 
Report, 7/22/88, pp. 429-32. Centers for Disease 
Control, Syphilis and Congenital Syphilis — 
United States 1985-1988, Morbidity and Mortality 
Weekly Report, 8/19/88, pp. 486-89. 

7. Seigal K. et al.. Patterns of Change in 
Sexual Behavior among Gay Men in New York 
City, Archives of Sexual Behavior, 12/88, pp. 481-97. 
Stall R., op cit. Becker M. et al., Acquired 
Immunodeficiency Syndrome and Behavioral 
Change to Reduce Risk, American Journal of Public 
Health, 4/88, pp. 394-410. 

8. Van Griensven G. et al., Failure Rate of 
Condoms during Anogenital Intercourse in Ho- 
mosexual Men, Genitourinary Medicine, 10/88, pp. 
344-6. Similar figures in: Golombok S. et al.. 
Condom Failure among Homosexual Men, Jour- 
nal of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndromes, 
1989 no. 4, pp. 404-9. 

9. Desjarlais D. et al., The Sharing of Drug 
Equipment and the Acquired Immunodeficiency 
Syndrome Epidemic in New York City: The First 
Decade, in Needle Sharing among Intravenous Drug 
Abusers, National Institute for Drug Abuse 
Research Research Monogram No. 80, 1988, p. 
160-75. (Cited information is on page 166.) Shilts 
R., And the Band Played On, St. Martin's Press, 
1987, p. 512. 

10. Centers for Disease Control, HIV/AIDS 
Surveillance, 5/89, p. 8. 

11. Hardsfield H., Heterosexual Transmis- 
sion of Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Journal 
of the American Medical Association, 10/7/88, pp. 

12. Centers for Disease Control, Acquired 
Immunodeficiency Syndrome and Human Im- 
munodeficiency Virus Infection in the United 
States: 1988 Update, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly 
Report, Supplement 4, 5/12/89, p. 10. 

13. Winkelstein, W. (1/16/87), op cit. Kings- 
ley L. op cit. Padian N., Heterosexual Transmis- 
sion of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome: 
International Perspectives and National Projec- 
tions, Reviews of Infectious Diseases, 9/87, pp. 
947-60. Padian N. et al., Male to Female 
Transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Vi- 
rus, Journal of the American Medical Association, 
8/14/87, pp. 788-90. Grant R. et al., Infectivity of 

the Human Immunodeficiency Virus: Estimates 
from a Prospective Study of Homosexual Men, 
Journal of Infectious Diseases, 7/87, pp. 189-93. 
Padian N. et al., Male to Female Transmission of 
Human Immunodeficiency Virus, abstract 
THP.3, Third International Conference on Acquired 
Immunodeficiency Syndrome, Washington, DC, 6/1- 
5/87, p. 171. Fox P. et al.. Saliva Inhibits HIV-1 
Infect'why, Journal of the American Dental Association, 
5/88, pp. 635-7. 

14. Padian N. (9/87), op cit. (Cited data is on 
p. 951.) Centers for Disease Control, Numbers of 
Sex Partners and Potential Risk to Human 
Immunodeficiency Virus, Morbidity and Mortality 
Weekly Report, 9/23/88, pp. 565-568. 

15. Quinn T. et al., Serologic and Immuno- 
logic Studies in Patients with Acquired Immuno- 
deficiency Syndrome in North America and 
Africa, Journal of the American Medical Association, 
5/15/88, pp. 2617-21. 

16. Greenberg A. et al.. The Association 
between Malaria, Blood Transfusions, and Hu- 
man Immunodeficiency Virus Seropositivity in a 
Pediatric Population in Kinshasa, Zaire , Journal of 
the American Medical Association, 1 '22/88, pp. 545- 

17. National Center for Health Statistics, 
Advance Data, 7/11/88. 

18. Communications Technology, Designing 
an Effective AIDS Risk Reduction Program m San 
Francisco. Results from the Second Probability Sample of 
Multiple/High- Risk Partner Heterosexual Adults, San 
Francisco AIDS Foundation, 10/13/88. 

19. Shilts R., Media's Short Attention Span, 
San Francisco Chronicle, 1/23/89, p. A5. 

20. Hurst N. and Hulley S., Preventing the 
Heterosexual Spread of AIDS: Are We Giving 
Our Patients the Best Advice?, Journal of the 
American Medical Association, 4/22/88,'pp. 2428-32. 

21. Stall R., op cit. Valdiserri R., Variables 
Influencing Condom Use in a Cohort of Gay and 
Bisexual Men, American Journal of Public Health, 
7/88, pp. 801-5. 


Otudies have shown that the time a 
worker beheves he has to himself during 
the work week really belongs to someone 

Electrode tests have traced the exist- 
ence of an alien authoritarian presence 
Snside the average worker's head, par- 
ticularly on week nights. This voice 
appears to determine the subject's 
course of action, which, according to 
test results, is highly predictable across- 
the-board. For no apparent reason, the 
subject will up and leave a movie, a 
party, even a steamy moment of pas- 
sion, just like that, right in the middle. 
In 97% of the cases the explanation the 
subjects gave was the same: "/ have to 
work tomorrow. " 

Further, the latest results have con- 
cluded that there is an increase in 
phone-calling behavior during the work 
week, a dramatic increase in television- 
watching and drug-ingesting, paral- 
leled by an astounding decrease in 
learning behavior, and a strange new 
affinity for traffic, collars, ties, high 
heels, panty hose and pancake make-up, 
even on stifling hot muggy afternoons. 

This has led experts to believe that the 

time a worker can legitimately claim as 
his own is in fact limited to his days off. 

Two days a week of life belong to the 
average person. 2 x 52 weeks in a year 
+ 10 days of vacation-leave + the 9 
official holidays equals 123 days of life 
per year. Now if one goes to business 
school and graduates in four years, as 
expected, according to the latest gov- 
ernment statistics, and thus works full- 
time from twenty-one until a retirement 
age of sixty- five, one can count on a 
total of 123 x 44 years, or 5,412 days 
of life during this period. 

In other words, the average "forty- 
hour" week worker is alive 5,412 days/ 
365 days in a year = 14.8273973 years 
from the time he is waiting for life to 
begin after graduation up until the time 
he is still waiting for life to begin not 
long before death. Add to that the time 
spent in the hereafter, if there is any. 

Fourteen years, nine months and a 
little over twenty-eight days, plus or 
minus one depending on whether one 
begins work on a month which ends 
with an odd or even day. 

Let's round this figure to the fifteen 
year mark, because after all, people do 
get sick and some actually fail to show 
up at work when that happens. 

In fact, if you can manage to swing 

ten sick days a year and two days off 
instead of one on Thanksgiving and 
Christmas, you could pull off 
16.2739726 years of life. That's a bonus 
of almost 1.5 years, and if you are fired 
this figure increases dramatically. 

There you have it folks: fifteen years 
of life, twenty-one spent in purgatory 
waiting for this life, twenty-nine in the 
inferno, and whatever you have left to 

* * * 

I will never forget my first and last 
encounter with a full-time job. I looked 
around the office, my eyes bloody, 
weighing heavy on the sockets from too 
little sleep, the sinuses dry, the heart 
racing from eight cups of coffee guzzled 
like a wino. There was everyone: going 
about their business, chatting, drinking 
coffee, answering phones, walking with 
purpose to somewhere or to somewhere 
else, never nowhere in particular. Al- 
ways the noise of a typewriter or printer 
beating away like the hammers and 
jjlaners of a monstrous construction 
project into whose vortex everyone was 

I thought with awe: "They do this all 
so easily, so calmly, as if this is normal!" 


Then I panicked: "Maybe it is normal. 
Maybe there is something wrong with 
me. Why am I the only one in the entire 
office who keeps looking at that vicious 
little clock? Why am I the only one in 
the whole world who thinks a terrible 
mistake has been made? Is this what life 
really is? What happened to all' the long 
meditative walks I was going to take like 
Henry Miller and William Saroyan, 
with night falling and a beer swimming 
in my empty stomach? What happened 
to the dawns greeted at the typewriter, 
all the books I was going to read, the 
hostages Carter was trying to release? 
Where did that world go?" 

Four months passed and 1 decided I 
would never do that again. I would 
rather clothe myself in polyester and beg 
the rest of my days than work. 

Many of us have managed to keep 
this vow, for the truth is that we don't 
really work; we are part-time paper 
pushers, we are bike messengers, we are 
baby-sitters for the public schools, we 
are free-lancers who hop aboard the 
payrolls like bandits on the run, jump- 
ing aboard freight trains, only to leap off 
again at the next destination. The train 
screams onward without us in its con- 
stant, unrelenting motion to another 

Wait a minute. We are not lazy — we 
have more important business to attend. 

"You should be in school. " "You should be 
working. " "You should be moving ahead. " 

Ahead? Yeah; right. Ahead for 
America, ahead so America can make 
its money from us, while we die for 
twenty-nine years, while our brains curl 

up and rot, while our love for life, our 
will to live withers up and dies. We beg 
for help. Help me, America! 

And sure enough, America will tell 
you exactly what you must do to help 
yourself, to succeed. School! America 
says, School.' Yet they don't want us to 
learn. Work.' they say, Work.' Yet Ameri- 
ca won't allow us to work, to work at 
what we love, to work at what drives us, 
which is the most important work of all. 

So just don't do it, is all. Fifteen years 
of life are commingled with twenty-nine 
rotten years of indentured servitude, 
like a life-time of frustrated orgasms. 
Then you die. 

Think about it. 

— by Margot Pepper 


Spectacle For Sale 


I o amount of television watching 
could have prepared me for the job I 
have now. I work as a "video researcher" 
for Video Monitoring Services of 
America (VMS), the video equivalent of 
a newspaper clipping service. 

VMS tapes the local network affiliates 
24 hours a day, every day, plus some 
programs from the independent New 
York stations, MTV, and major radio 
stations. VMS also has branch offices 
and affiliates all over the country which 
provide access to practically every news 
broadcast in America. 

Each news program is monitored 
daily, which means that the bug-eyed 
dungeon dwellers of the company flow- 
chart handwrite short descriptions of 
every program, with particular atten- 
tion to names of products, companies, 
and celebrity commodities. Corpora- 
tions and P.R. firms use this informa- 
tion to evaluate their products' (human 
and otherwise) images and to determine 
how successfully they are manipulating 
the media. 

My job is to locate the chosen seg- 
ment from a prerecorded tape, which is 
then given to an editor who copies the 
segment onto a blank tape for the client. 
My 11p.m. shift begins and I settle 
myself before the small cube that pumps 
stimuli into my senses for hours each 
night. Tiers of VCRs and TVs sur- 

round me like an information womb. I 
see other flickering images refiected in 
my screen, out of the corner of my eye 
and everywhere I turn. Essentially I am 
an information age peon and have come 
to feel about the television the way 
industrial age drones must have felt 
about their sewing machines or lathes. 

Working at VMS, I view electroni- 
cally generated information and infor- 
mation per se in a way which is 
quantitatively and qualitatively differ- 
ent from the way media civilians usually 
perceive these staples of their existence. 
Every day I am confronted with omi- 
nous wallshelves overflowing with vi- 
deotapes; tangible reminders of the fact 
that vast amounts of so-called ephemera 
are actually preserved and part of the 
collective data pool. My already well- 
honed sensitivity to information inun- 
dation has also been heightened by my 
stints, via the magic of fast forward, 
rifling through the image files of the 
globe and ingesting highly concentrated 
doses of spectacle. The speed, volume 
and boundlessness of modern informa- 
tion gathering produces a concentrated 
version of the barbarism, disaster and 
miscellaneous sensationalism that occur 
throughout the world every day. What I 
see is an exaggeration of an exaggera- 

TV news magnifies distant military. 

government and celebrity rumblings 
and presents them as a series of disjoint- 
ed, almost interchangeable, images. 
This fundamental media truth is inten- 
sified by the ludicrous amount of repeti- 
tion I endure. While searching for a 
certain segment, I have to pass other 
stories which are sometimes repeated 
two or three times during a single 
broadcast, and I may have seen the 
identical stories four or five times before 
on other programs. Meanwhile, some- 
one near me may be watching the same 
story on another channel. 

The most memorable repetition gorge 
happened the day the space shuttle blew 
up. At one point every TV screen in the 
small office showed a different stage of 
catastrophe (cf Warhol's "Disaster Se- 
ries" for another take on repetitious 
disaster iconography). Events seen and 
seen again and again in this mode 
readily dissolve into pure spectacle — 
devoid of context, emotional content 
and immediacy. 

My windowscreen on the world is 
further mediated by my fingertip con- 
trol of the images before me. Forward, 
reverse and pause buttons allow me to 
-penetrate the seamless flow of "real time" 
and toy with TV fodder like image 
puppets. The Bud Dwyer tragedy was 
especially fascinating because it was 
such pure spectacle to begin with. 


Dwyer was the former Pennsylvania 
state treasurer who, after he was con- 
victed of corruption and was about to be 
sentenced, called a press conference and 
blew his brains out with a .357 mag- 
num. I must have watched this splatter 
scene a least 15 times, in slow motion, 
fast motion, single frame real time, and 
reverse. After several viewings I realized 
that the control which I gleefully exer- 
cised over this sensational image was not 
merely a product of my own morbid 
whims, but also an obedient response to 

the taped version of the event which 
seemed to beg for voyeurism and ma- 
nipulation rather than empathy or com- 

The relentless barrage of Rehash, 
Epidemic, Scandal, and Terror (wel- 
come to the R.E.S.T. decade) and 
sundry other media chimeras is the 
backdrop for TVs real purpose: to 
peddle things, services, lifestyles and 
images. Most news programs fit .snugly 
within this consumerist agenda and 
function as extended commercials. Cor- 

porations and P.R. firms just utilize the 
medium accordingly and VMS provides 
the information lubricant for the big 
business-media machine. The Tylenol 
poisonings provided the company with 
its most profitable month ever. 

I could go on, but some tawdry pop 
icon has a new movie out and a bunch of 
people just died of food poisoning so 
there's lots of work to do. 

— by Adam Quest 

The Billboard Liberation Front is 

responsible for this . . . correction of a 
sign (originally advertising a radio sta- 
tion with the slogan "Hits Happen"). 
Bringing truth to advertising since 1977, 
the BLF issued a communique (May 9, 
1989) urging the "PAVE ALASKA" 
campaign as a step towards our Ameri- 
can evolutionary destiny: "In conjunc- 
tion with the ongoing natural 'green- 
house effect,' we should use this occur- 
ance [the oil spill] to open up new op- 
portunities for real estate development." 


Because Daddy worked where there is radiation, 
toxic chemicals and genetically engineered 
organisms, his family clung to him as he departed 
for work, "It's OK sweetheart, I'll be alright," 
as he released his wife's grip on him. Bending 
down to his little daughter, "I'll be back baby, 
let go Daddy's leg. You must realize that the 
radiation from the check-out counter is harmless, 
and the toxic chemicals are all in containers on 
the gardening shelf. And the organisms in the 
yogurt are perfectly safe." His family reassured, 
the box-boy at the supermarket went off to work. 

by Roger Coleman 



I was sleeping off a Kafka novel when I heard a knock at the door. 

Alas, it was Claudette, the Belgian drunk, come back for the t.v. 

She went into the kitchen to prepare a sandwich: two pieces of 

wheat toast and a slice of Kraft headcheese. 

She was once the great love of my life, now she wanted the furniture. 

I dreamt of poppy fields, burning. 

She took her panties down from the showerhead. 

I dreamt of Bob Dylan. 

I dreamt of learning to love my parents. Of snow in Malibu, CA. 

Of a '69 palest aqua used Malibu car we had in '70. 

I woke up and there was a blue Fender guitar pick in bed beside me. 

1 had what some call a "reality confrontation," 

although 1 had committed no art. 

I reread Celine in 45 minutes flat; my entire body . . . 


I took a bus to Hollywood, California. 
by Paris, Blazey 


The girls at the desk discuss sex all night. The big 
blonde says she masturbated at age four. My roommate 
is in Wisconsin at a fast-food business conclave, seeking 
management tips to take back to Tokyo. 1 steal his KOOLs 
though 1 hate the taste. When they run out I go to sleep. 
The radio plays Bowie or Coltrane. 1 have thirty-seven 
cents. A dime will pay the postage due on the money order 
my father sent me. It will arrive tomorrow. A miniature 
TV flickers on the desk. The girls read a survey question 
about sexual positions. The slight blonde can't decide 
her favorite. She drags on her cigarette and coughs. The 
other offers sympathy. 

A French girl comes by to thank me for flowers 1 haven't 

sent her. She resembles a young Brigitte Bardot. I cash 

the money order and buy Gitanes from the French girl 

at the Kiosk. The September Vanity Fair attacks the young 

writers it made famous. The radio plays Count Basic 

and Suzanne Vega. When the Gitanes run out I go to sleep. 

A guy at the desk calls to ask that I stop sending flowers 
to the French girl. The shirts my father sent two weeks 
ago haven't come. 1 Scotch-tape my right shoe together and 
get funny looks from walkers on Union Street. The radio 
plays Creedence Clearwater and Wynton Marsalis. Searching 
for a smoke, 1 uncover a photo of my roommate with an 
enormous topless blonde. 

The girl comes by to apologize for confusing me with 
thejon who sent the flowers. "Nevermind," I say, 
backing into the trash can, almost spilling its cargo 
of butts, styrofoam cups of congealed coffee, empty packs. 

The girls talk about their past and current boyfriends. 
They are not pretty. 1 love the bits of secrets I gather. 
It will be hours 

before 1 sleep. 

by Jon Swift 



The soggy remains of a pack of matches 

which once had written on it 

the phone number of what seemed to be 

a fairly attractive woman 

I ran into yesterday down at Bruno's Bar 

now sticks out of my dog's mouth. 

I think he's mad because I'm never around 
since I started this job. 
I wrestle him for it 
till the number's mush. 

Last week the return address 

of a friend's letter disappeared in sweat 

in my back pocket. On the weekend 

I lost the suitcoat to a borrowed suit 

drunk at a wedding. Next day James caught me 

sleeping, wrote me up. 

Somebody stole my thermos. 

Alice, the only woman who's agreed 

to be in my presence all year 

has dumped me for a schoolteacher. 

She said I was always tired or drunk — 

she's got me there. 

Working seven days a week does that 

to a person, I told her. 

She came over late one night 

when I was drunk with Harry 

and commented on my smell: 

At least you could shower once in a while. 

She got me there. 

by Jim Daniels 


A good many men are perched 
In the early-blooming trees, 
Displaying their faith in God. 

Other men believe in frost — 

Each groan the house gives, the clash 

Of icicles in the eaves. 

Wolves howling at the moon sing 

Of Armageddon to them. 

One more man, whom darkness loves. 
Tries to rock, runs to the door 
Every hour because he hears 
A knocking as of women 
Marooned on ice floes that crash 
Into each other, submerge, 
Then smash again while women 
Croon. All night, women knocking. 
But no one is ever there. 


Night was I in a bad mode 

it was all middle 

seamless without beginning or end 

familiar in its disturbing 

alltoo elusive way 

A slip had me wondering 

could I have chosen to lose it? 

in the process mislaid the choice 

on the tip of my tongue 

time of day 

Amnesia darts a forked smile 

whispers out my ears 

brains liquid on the run 

sucked clear of color 

vacuum empty 
homemade popsicle 

Chest hurt the devil 

I feared it would 

the valves were 



Let down 

we were betrayed 


More sluggish now 

having worn it wet 

the loss was knowing 

the matter of fact 

and thus the future 

Hands crawl white knuckle crabs 

the silverstudded minefield 

bright sockets on the console 

without eyes or insight 

gleaming dullness lodged in my mind 

discolored and soft as sandpaper 

soaked in vinegar 

Once remarked on the resilience of walls 

could they ever keep the night at bay? 

insulating the convolutions of fear 

The intestinal coil of courage 

slithers out 

a seared interior 

Alone on my feet 

I scrape the dry wafer of words 

into a fair approximation 

this sequence of loss 

byD.S. Black 

by Patrick Worth Gray 




#001 IN A SERES 



one thing nearned from the 

iVage and blatant J 
■ 1. Today our 

e« on every s«eet™rne-^.=^^ 
made of firecra ^^, 

you. whUe thousa- ^^^^^^ 
fearing ^ 
and did 1 

make ^^"'"^^r No "They ap- 
pyrotechnician? ^o. i >, ^ 
plauded. They went oooh 

"a^^l'l, r^^pitol is on the job! 

OuVrepVesenlatives get ca^n 

°c"cep4 (P^te^V 'ej^'S 

_ . ., _ _tu;^oi omiivalent oi kick. 


cesspool of CO 
venality, pohtic 
mindless cann 



No, D.C. looks for a dog to kick. 

And what is the dog? Art. Or 
"Art, art," I suppose. Personally, 
I don't think there's ever been art 
in this coimtry. But then again, I 
don't know much about art, I onJy 
know what I despise. 

I'll admit that a display of a 
crucifix in urine may not be the 
best use of federal fmiding, but 
neither do I think the salary of 
Jesse Helms is a proper use of 
federal funding. 


got a jar, what do I put in it? A 
star of David? Nah. I got it! A 
crucifix! I am unique in my crea- 
tivity! Now: what to soak it in ? 
Perrier? Nah. Milk? Nah. I got it! 
My own urine! I'm a true genius! 
Me and Monet! Where's my 

Of course, I'm mainly bitter 
because I want that government 
money. And why not? The cruci- 
fix in the urine is a wise ass 
acting out. I'm a wise ass. Give 
me the money. 

"Hold on there, mister," you're 
saying. "What about this Robert 
Mapplethorpe deal?" Look on the 
bright side. This "controversial" 
display of photographs has given 
editorialists the opportimity to 
use the word "homoerotic" in 
their essays. It's allowed mu- 
seum-goers to see the private 
parts of men in three-piece suits 
— something I've never seen be- 
fore. Jesse Helms is worried that 
this will be offensive to "... 
religions and non-religions." I 
don't know what this means, and 
I don't care. I don't care if it 

Have I ever cut off the fimding of 

swer is No. 

So what if kids see the private 

happen upon a display of "hom- 
oeroticism"? Well gosh, folks, we 
take kids to the zoo all the time. 

I non- 
profit funds are being used to 

fund bestiality? No. We chalk the . 
whole thing up to biology, and \ , 
move the kids on to the pettmg 

zoo. , J 

That's why I have a few mod- 
est suggestions to solve this art 

pointment of an Arts Czar. 1 
recommend somebody who does 
not know anything about art. m | 
much the same way William Ben- 
nett, our Drugs Czar, doesnt 

I volunteer. , . . ^u 

Suggestion #2: Eliminate the 
word "art" from our vocabulary. 
Then we won't have anything to 
worry about. For "art," substi- 
tute the word "news." Nobody ; 
cares if there are offensive items 
on the news— we accept it as 
part of the glut of information so 
necessary for a wise citizenry. 

No more performance art— 
now it's performance news. No 
more fine art, now it's fine news. 
No good art or bad art, just good 
news and bad news. 

"Say did you see the Mapple- 
thorpe exhibit at the News Mu- 

"That was bad news. 

This will solve so many prob- 
lems. Because everybody says, 
"Yes, but is it art?" and nobody 
' says, "Yes, but is it news?" 

Suggestion #3: Surrender 
Dorothy! Go ahead. Throw out 
the baby, the bathwater, every- 
thing, and give up. Let us aU, as 
Americans, adopt the Jesse 
Helms System of Aesthetic Ap- 
preciation (JHSAA). Using the 
Jesse Hehns criteria, only the 
following things will be consid- 
ered art: 

Elvis on Velvet 
Jesus on Velvet 

• Dogs in Funny Clothes 
Playing Poker 

• American Gothic 

• Mono Lisa 

• Quilts , 

• Littie Fuzzy Puppies and 
Kitties with Big Eyes 

• The HostUe Takeover 
Postcards, Personalized 
Bumper Stickers, and Mes- 
sage T-shirts 

— Merle Kessler 

Jesse's World 

Robert Mapplethorpe, lately 
dead, is a widely respected pho- 
tographer in the mainstream art 
world, as documented by the 
many glossy books of his works. 
Unfortunately, the Corcoran Gal- 
lery of Art in Washington. D . C . , 
decided to take it upon itself to 
practice self-censorship, cancel- 
ling Mapplethorpe's upcoming 
exhibition of controversial photo- 
graphs. They were afraid of pub- 
lic reaction, or more likely, a 
brisk and improving visit from 
the thought police. Mapplethorpe 
has a thing for genitalia, homoer- 
otic works and sadomasochism. 
Okay, so we've established that 
he's a cool guy. And if he were 
still alive we'd take him aside and 
say, "Bob, chill out, man, try 
some pastels, and camouflage 
those genitalia in landscapes. 
Maybe palm trees. You know, 

Alas, palm trees would not 
escape the watchful eye of that 
protector of us all, that watchful 
arbiter of good taste and part- 
time cuddlebimny of third world 
dictators. Senator Jesse Hehns of 
North Carolina. Jesse may or may 
not know art, but he knows what 
he doesn't like, and what you 
shouldn't either. He definitely 
has a problem with Mapple- 
thorpe. He has such a big prob- 
lem with Mapplethorpe that he's 
pushed a bill through the Senate 
which calls for withholding Fed- 
eral fimds from works of art 
(such as major exhibitions) that 
"promote, disseminate or pro- 
duce obscene or indecent materi- 
als, including, but not limited to 
depictions of sadomasochism, 
homoeroticism, the exploitation 
of children or individuals en- 
gaged in sex acts; or material 
which denigrates the objects or 
behefs of the adherents of any 
religion or nonreUgion." A scant 
two senators had the guts to 
stand against the bill. 

Jesse proves he's a forward 
planning guy, which is why he's a 
senator, by having the catchall 
phrase "including but not limited 
to." This can conveniently be , 
expanded to cover anything Jesse 
and his buddies haven't thought 
of. but which might pop up later. , 
It's a difficult life being a conser- L^ 
vative watchdog, because those » 
perverts are nothing if not inge- 
nious. „ ^ , 
Note the clause "adherents of 
any religion or nonreUgion,' 
which could conceivably be used 
to limit one's God-given right to 
make fun of anyone at aU. The 
Ayatollah must be thanking 
brother Jesse from his grave for | 
helping to make the United States 
unfriendly territory for the blas- 
phemer Sahnan Rushdie, the Sa- 
tanic Writer. 

Many artists, writers and film 
makers are dependent upon 
grants from corporations and 
federally-funded institutions 

whether they like it or not. Hehns 
bill not only throttles artists, it 
imprisons anyone who likes art 
by limiting what they are aUowed 
to see. Say what you want, but 
we'U make sure no one can hsten. 
One step closer to the thought 

Of course, money will make 
you free; art produced by recog- 
nized greats such as DaU. Ma- 
tisse. Calder and Kiefer is tightly 
controUed by those who hold 
huge amounts of money: This art 
is basically an investment and its 
worth is measured in terms of 
monetary fluctuations. Artists of 
this stature, if they are still alive, 
i are able to attend gala private 
receptions in their honor given by 
the financial elite of the world. 
Lesser artists may be servmg as 
chauffeurs or bus boys for these 
Beginning in the mid-19608, art 
^^^ produced in the U.S. began to 
< command higher and higher 
prices. The artists of the 1970s 
k tried to combat the engulfing 
1. economics oiF the art market by 

such as earthworks, or art that 
was very transient; such as ob- 
jects made of materials that 

would not last long, like rubber, 
or objects that were easily repro- 
ducible so that the process of 
actually making it was more im- 
portant than the object itself. 
Using these tactics it was hoped 
no one could purchase art as a 
potential investment. Artists also 
began using their own bodies as 
, art pieces. However, collectors 
began collecting the tiny artifacts 
used by these artists on their 
bodies as sacred rehcs, which 
could then be traded for larger 
and larger sums of money. 
I Some artists left on the out- 
skirts of society may indulge in 
certain practices that are 
frowned on or possibly made 
illegal by the rest of society. 
These may or may not include 
various drugs, "perverted" sex 
acts, random violence and/or 
chronic laziness at work. This 
must be looked at as enhancing 
the freedom of expression and 
creativity so essential to an art- 
ist. Artists are also free to abuse 
their bodies in whatever ways 
they see fit. Artists tend to lean to 
self-destruction. Legislation may 
be under way to protect the rest 
of society from some of these 
non-normal behaviors or inter- 

When I used to watch televi- 
sion (it may be presumptuous of 
me to assume you care), I enjoyed 
watching the painting shows on j 
PBS. Not the water color shows; 
they were too simple and light. 
No. I would sit enraptured as a 
hippie burn-out or old German 
smeared fecal oil paint around on 
big palettes and slashed down 
washes and then really began to 
put the paint dovm. They always 
had cute little scenes, usually 
outdoors. They knew exactly ''* 
where to put the shadows and A 
highlights to make the surface of 
the paintings dance with the re- 
alistic portrayals. They enjoyed. I 
or seemed to enjoy, painting 
these things. It was an artistic ' 
Valium. I could really use one 
now. jifi 

— Gregg Nokonishi g 
and Ann Henry. K 










Art? What Art? 

In the spring of this year we mailed a 
pair of surveys to our subscribers; the 
first dealt with P. W. itself (see pages 
4-9). The second solicited material 
dealing with "art" (see sidebar). 

The survey generated an alien (be- 
low), as well as a substantial number of 
responses (31 to date) in a variety of 
styles. Responses came — with some 
overlap — from writers and poets (in 
different mixes and shades), musicians 
(including a tape of electronic music in 
lieu of a written response), photogra- 
phers, visual artists (mail art, painting, 
computer art, technical illustrating, 
etc.), an installation artist, cartoonists, a 
woodburner, an editor of a music 'zine, 
and a ceramic production type with 
interest/experience in architecture and 
performance art. Non-artists who re- 
sponded include a labor organizer, a 
person in the art publishing world 
("almost as bad as being an art teacher"), 
a computer programmer, an "informa- 
tion organizer," one incoherent and one 
"Dumb! Dumb!" response. 

We heard from Seattle WA.(2 peo- 
ple); Minneapolis; Portland and Scotts 
Mills, OR.; Tempe AZ.; the S.F. area 
(7), Los Angeles, San Diego, Folsom 
prison, Sacramento (2), and San Cle- 
mente, CA.; Oneonta, New York City 
(2), and Brooklyn, NY.; Chicago, IL.; 
Warren, ML; Philadelphia, PA.; 
Brookline and Allston, MA.; and Fort 
Bragg, NC. 

In this issue we are leading off with an 
essay from Mark Burbey, and with the 
centerfold material on Jesse Helms' art 
appreciation society. We will be pub- 
lishing the results, and our reflections 
there-on, in issue #25. 

We welcome contributions from 
others, or extensions of previous mate- 
rial, as well as your responses to what is 
published here. So, again, we got your 
material; we appreciate it; your efforts are 
not in vain. Stay tuned . . . 

We'd like to thank, in addition to 
Mark Burbey, Mari Bianca, Trixie 
T-Square, D.S. Black, and the local 
"Art Strike" group (even if they don't 
know why). 

— P. Morales & the collective 

creative process to be at odds with the 
job? Any comments on Mammon and 
the Muse? Do you earn more than you 
spend on your art? 

3) What are problems that you face? 
(For some this might include finding 
space to work in, for others the problem 
might be more one of finding people to 
work with. Perhaps the inability to find 
galleries willing to support them (spon- 
sor? rip-off?) might be a major problem, 
while for others it couldn't matter less.) 
Any ideas on ways to deal with these? 
Any health hazards in your work? Any 

4) What's the point of it all? What is 
the role, if any, of the audience (if such a 
category exists)? 

5) To what extent do you cross the 
traditional boundaries that delimit your 
field? Are there any? What sorts of 
projects have you whimsied about? 

6) What's influential? Anything from 
outside of your "field"? (i.e., if you paint, 
is there some poem or music that has 
had a particular influence?) 

7) Do you consider yourself political? 
Does that reflect itself? How? What turns 
you off in political art? 

8) What's your favorite fraction? 

Processed World wants to publish a 
view of your practice? Or does it? (Just as selection of the responses, both written 
some computer programmers, say, are and graphic, so if you have problems 
hackers who delight in the work, there with our use of anything in print, you 
are others who just do it as a living, and should indicate so on your response. If 
yet others who've been forced to choose you want to be known by a real name, 
between craft and job.) or a pseudonym, please tell us (other- 
How much of "you" ends up in your wise we'll probably just use initials). We 
work? How do the limits make them- will use appropriate material in issue 
selves known? Do you ever find the #25. Questions? Write (or call)! 

These questions are designed to study your 
planet's most puzzling activity: Art. To that 
end, we'd like you to tell us about art and 
how it is done. Don't treat us as simple- 
minded morons, but you should try not to 
make assumptions about what is obvious. 

Unlike a "test," this has no right answers. 
We are interested in particular in personal 
experiences, and discussions and explorations 
that draw on them. We would rather have a 
poem, a drawing, or a short story than a 
forced or tortuous response that answers the 
questions literally. We are studying art, not 
geography. These questions may be thought 
of as a focusing lens, rather than definitive 
demarcations of subject material. You may 
make up your own questions for extra credit. 
A "Tale of Toil" would be most welcome. 

1) Are you now, or have you ever 
been, an artist (within a broad definition 
of the word)? If so, what sort: (perform- 
ance, visual, pen & ink, poet, whatever 
. . .)? How long? (yeah, we know, all 
your life, but maybe you can give some 
idea of the amount and quality of time 
spent at it.) 

If you aren't an "artist," do you 
perceive an element of "art" in your 
work (or in other endeavors)? For in- 
stance, engineers, mechanics, carpen- 
ters, etc., while not really "artists" 
(except perhaps in their spare time), 
often utilize or see an artistic aspect in 
their work. 

2) If you make your living at some 
form of "art," how does that affect your 











Please respond to: 

The Hubert Humphrey & Curtis LeMay 
Art Appreciation Society 

c/o Processed World, 41 Sutter St., #1829 

San Francisco, CA. 94104 U.S.A. 


HAv/'n/^ sex 


p^A^ O^T-FT^ S/^^VO:. 

M€ cfj TO o-nrei2~ 

-y\-\fr^lf~ yov/ 


u4Mf^., - 

Iff MP^'-'Why We Live 



Being vs Nothingness 

IN othing has any intrinsic meaning except that which 
we, as individuals, put into it; filling the void, as it were. 
Some people live merely to feed, mistaking body func- 
tions for signs of life. I live for art, good or bad, whatever 
art may be. 

By v^ay of introduction, let me say that I am a writer, 
first and foremost, although I don't feel that the label of 
"writer" fully covers it. I feel that I am a person of the arts 
in that I am compelled to write by the same impulses that 
compel a painter to paint or a composer to compose. 
When I write, I write fiction and non-fiction, essays and 
poetry, film scripts and comic books, taking each as 
seriously as another. My essential sources of inspiration 
are emotion and observation; real life as opposed to 
escapism or fantasy. I ultimately hope to make films, 
although going to Hollywood is the last way that I would 
consider going about it, preferring to make small films 
that tell realistic and human stories. 

In lieu of that, I am currently editing and contributing 
to a magazine titled Street Music, a publication of 
serious, adult-oriented comic book stories that revolve 
around real life characters and subjects instead of 
costumed heroes battling costumed villains over the fate 
of the universe. I approach comics writing in the same 
fashion as I would approach filmmaking, insofar as one is 
telling stories with words and pictures. Comics and film 
have their own inherent differences, yet one is able to use 

a sequence of comic book panels as if they were film 
frames, creating illusions of time and motion. The goal of 
Street Music, however, outside of affording me a place to 
publish my own stories and those of like-minded artists 
and writers, is to demonstrate that comic books are a valid 
form of literary expression and worthy of an adult 

For the purpose of this essay, I should also point out 
that I am earning only a meager honorarium as editor 
and main contributor to Street Music. The magazine is a 
labor of love and art and I perceive it as a showcase that 
may well lead to other things. I am able to attract "big 
name" associate contributors and I'm able to offer 
exposure to newcomers, but the print run of each issue is 
fairly low and the page rate is even lower, resulting in a 
decision to relinquish the entire page rate to the artists 
with whom I collaborate. 

Let me stress, too, that comic books are not my sole 
venue as a writer, and that I make no distinction in terms 
of what form my writing will take; the material itself 
makes that critical decision. Ideas tell the author what 
form they need to take if they are to be adequately 
expressed. Instead of sitting down with the notion of 
writing a poem and then looking around for something to 
write a poem about, I allow a given idea to present itself 
as a poem, or a short story, or a novel, or a comic book, 
or a film. That's the only way to work, because anything 


else is like trying to force that square peg into a round 
hole and the writer ends up marking crucial decisions for 
absolutely the wrong reasons. Just as it's artistically 
spurious to gear one's work to a specific market when the 
sole consideration is a higher rate of pay — artistic 
integrity and honesty require motivations beyond the 
financial — it makes no sense to write a short story instead 
of a comic book story simply because the writer thinks he 
can sell it to The New Yorker instead of Street Music. 
One can write for both markets, but the story should 
decide where it wants to live, and the writer should resist 
making such limiting distinctions between one form of 
writing and another. 

At the same time, expecting to earn a living— even a 
handsome living— with one's art is not a crass prostitution 
of that art, but rather, a necessary and valid expectation. 
I've been writing for numerous small magazines since 
1970 and, as anyone who has written for small magazines 
knows, there's no way one can earn a livable wage 
publishing on this scale. Consequently, I am currently 
attempting to break into the pages of some of the larger 
newsstand magazines — the slicks — with the idea of mak- 
ing more money while continuing to write about subjects 
that genuinely interest me. I refuse to write about such 
nonentities as Robin Givens or Sean Young, but I will 
happily write about Crispin Glover or Martin Scorsese 
because they are individuals who personally interest me 
and who deserve to be written about. 

And that, I believe, is the distinction between honest 
writing and mere hackwork for the masses. It's the 
difference between Saul Bellow and Judith Krantz. Both 
sell a lot of books- although Krantz most assuredly sells 
more by virtue of the masses' voracious appetite for 
witless, escapist, dream-feeding blather — but Bellow 
genuinely earns his readership because he writes from the 
heart while Krantz writes for the benefit of her real estate 

Art is certainly used to sell products, and art is often 
hammered into marketable shapes a la Leroy Neimann 
and Peter Max, but art exists for the expression and 
salvation of human emotion. Mankind, on the other 
hand, has no genuine reason to exist and serves no 
genuine purpose. The value of human life is based solely 
upon the finite duration of it, while art serves to make 
that brief duration bearable. Art is what has given my life 
substance and direction since childhood. 

Before arguing with me (or mentioning God), think 
about it. The earth would be far better off if there were no 
people on it, and if the earth were to suddenly disappear, 
the only repercussion would be the possible collapse of our 
tiny, nine-planet solar system. And so what if that 
happens? I'm not saying that it wouldn't be a drag from 
our personal point of view, but we wouldn't be here to 
worry about it, so what would it matter . . . really? Who 
and/or what would it affect? 

It all means nothing, but in saying so, I'm not 
suggesting that humankind should surrender to the 
meaninglessness and commence with the raping and 
pillaging, or that we should all just start blowing our 
heads off, but rather, that by virtue of its brevity, life 
should be held in the highest regard and lived to its 
greatest fruition. 

Suicide isn't necessary; death will be here soon enough. 
That's all the meaning one should need in life. Whenever 


I'm afraid or reluctant to do something, I remind myself 
of this. "You could be dead tomorrow, so what's there to 
be afraid of? Just do it, whatever it is. Just do it . . . nowV 

So I do it. It works very well, this simple reminder, and 
it keeps me moving forward, taking nothing for granted. 

In a 1964 interview, the late novelist Nelson Algren 
said, "Happiness is a relative thing. It implies some kind 
of meaningful work, and meaningful work is in short 
supply. I don't think there is any meaningful work outside 
of the arts." 

My sentiments exactly, but one needs to eat, if only to 
continue working in the arts or elsewhere, and that's 
where the eight-to-five gig comes in. Unless one is lucky 
enough to have reached a level to be able to live on the 
money generated by art work, one is forced to either seek 
some form of governmental assistance (something I won't 
do) or accept the fact that until such a level is attained, 
submission to full-time or at least part-time employment 
is unavoidable. 

Not a pleasant scenario, but neither is living on the 
street. Some artists find a pleasant medium by working in 
a graphics studio or for a magazine or publisher, but in 
my case, even this proved to be less than satisfactory. In 
working for a comic book company outside of Philadel- 
phia several years ago, I had to resign myself to the 
opinion that the majority of the comics they published 
were titles that I barely wanted to read, let alone edit. 
But, hell, it was professional, and a month after joining 
the company as an editorial assistant, I thought that I was 
finally on my way and that I'd never again need to accept 
a normal job. By the third month I realized that the job 
was as normal as any other, and the minor detail that the 
editor-in-chief was given to insulting, screaming fits 
didn't help. Six months after moving myself to this small 
town of industrial vapidity, I was relieved of my duties 
(i.e., fired) and then happily winged my way back home 
to San Francisco. 

Prior to moving east, I'd spent four years working 
around the city as a picture framer — as close to the arts as 
working in a record store is to the music business — but it 
was the exhaustion of my patience with this so-called 
trade that sent me running to the East Coast in the first 
place, so I opted to capitalize on my office skills and 
joined the "temp" force. Temping is ideal for a person 
who hates interviewing for jobs and filling out applica- 
tions and waiting for telephone calls that never come. It 
also affords one the opportunity to take a few days off if a 
magazine deadline is impending or if one is putting the 
final touches on a gallery opening, or whatever. 

In .my case, temping led to a full-time position with 
Wells Fargo Bank, where I currently work as a Records 
Administrator. Actually, the job and the attendant title 

were created specifically for me after I'd worked in Real 
Estate Negotiations as a file clerk for several months. I've 
been with Wells Fargo for nearly three years and 
appreciate the fact that, for a white collar job, my position 
suits me very well and allows me enough room to be 
myself and to do my job without needing to conform to an 
excess of soul-selling corporate attitudes. I'm able to listen 
to music while I work (thank Christ!) and I'm making 
more money than I ever have in my life (although I still 
can't afford a one-bedroom apartment). 

There is also something to be said for the exposure to 
life one gets from working in the real world; any artist 
interested in portraying human reality needs to have had 
a solid, first-hand taste of it. In the final analysis, 
however— despite the acknowledged benefits of standard 
employment — I wouldn't be able to handle it without the 
writing to go home to. Without the art I would be 

My biggest problem now is that, in producing a 
magazine on a bimonthly schedule and trying to write for 
other markets, I feel as though I have two full-time jobs, 
and after working all day at one job, I often have little 
energy remaining for the second. When an article or a 
review or a story or an essay is absolutely due, I can apply 
myself during the evening hours and produce good work 
and turn it in on time, but I generally find that I'm at my 
best in the early morning. Perhaps I could find a job 
working afternoons or evenings, but I don't feel like being 
a security guard or working in a warehouse or a 

The dichotomy here is that while my present job suits 
me and sustains me, it also impedes my progress as a 
writer. I have to wonder how much better my work would 
be, or how much further along I would be in terms of 
contacts and published credits, if I wasn't forced to divide 
my time and my energies in this dissipating fashion. 
Working full-time interferes with an artist's ability to fully 
perceive himself as such, consuming the time one needs to 
stare out windows and dream and process ideas and 
incubate half-formed concepts. 

The key to enduring any job has always been, for me, 
the feeling that it wasn't forever — that eventually I'd have 
that breakthrough and be able to earn a livable wage with 
my writing. But during the years of striving and waiting 
and valiantly maintaining faith and optimism, the artist is 
relegated to the life of a dilettante, a mere hobbyist, and 
I've never much liked the basement quaintness of 
time-passing hobbies. 

My dream since childhood has not been for material 

wealth or luxury, but for the time when each day would 
be mine to spend writing, reading, thinking . . . living life 
as it should be lived. The aforementioned faith and 
optimism that success is impending remains, and my 
dream since childhood is unchanged. 

A poem by the late Raymond Carver tided "His 
Bathrobe Pockets Stuffed With Notes," published in 1986 
in the first issue of a literary magazine called Caliban and 
included in the posthumous collection titled "A New Path 
to the Waterfall", was the apparent culmination of 
seemingly unrelated yet intriguing notes the author had 
written to himself over however long a period of time. 
The second to last note reads: "I've got — how much 

Sadly, Raymond Carver had only two years to wait 
before receiving an answer to his ponderous and 
not-so-hypothetical question. Perhaps he had a certain 
premonition regarding his fate, because the final note in 
the poem reads: "Enough horsing around!" 

Nothing more needs to be said. 

The clarity of perceiving life as a match that may be 
blown out before the candle is lit precludes any need for 
the drug of religion or the delusion of purpose. Even more 
important is the inevitability that once lit, the candle only 
burns so long, even if it manages to burn fully to the 
bottom, leaving us with only the self-advice of Raymond 

"Enough horsing around!" 

—Mark Burbey with many thanks to Angela Bocage. 


Spooky Days of the Wide-Eyed 

Foolish, I always thought, foolish 
big-time to poke the laity with a plethora 
of futures, to rouse their pustulant lives 
to seepage with these promises and 
recommendations. . . 

But Mary for the hundredth time 
thought I was way off base. You never 
know, she was thinking, who's going to 
rupture our standards. We list zdready. 
The president is losing foot, the gar- 
bagemen are screaming in the night, it's 
all so internal and dense. . . How else 
to safeguard the stuff of our poetry and 
of our souls, our fucking souls, than to 
learn? Learn learn learn? So we can 

help the president and through him 

But learn what? I wondered. Learn 
about extrication of men? Of oneself 
from the state? Lacking the state, what 
have most men got? Minus birth even 
less. "Escape your birth" — one cringes in 
embarrassment. There's nothing to 
learn, it just hurts too much. Give it 

Mary was getting angry and her 
thoughts grew jumbled. They can't read 
our minds, you know. They sit in their 
chairs and fret because they just don't 
know what's going on anymore. Could 

be anything, riflery, non-standard 
cookery, henchmen, the bizarre. . . We 
could be unstable in our traps, we could 
wreak mongo bad on the funnybone, we 
could die alone . . . Don't you feel the 
winds of anarchy? We have to learn. 
Imagine if no one at all knows what's 
going on. Imagine the AIDS. I mean, 
collectivity isn't working. Collectivity! 
Maybe in a hundred years, two 
hundred, we'll be able to sit and spud 
out, but now it's erudition, honey, it's 
major lurching for the lobes. 

Ach. I was too tired for this work. 
The individual was all that mattered. 


Things weren't going to fall apart. The 
president had his information and the 
rest was smooth. The tabloids were 
exploiting us, making us think every- 
thing needed us so we'd buy more and 
more fold-out fret-antifret pills. Maybe 
in a hundred years, two hundred, the 
newspapers could be trusted, but for 
now it had to be all common sense. Sure 
it was a little dense, a little dark, a little 
spooky each one sitting alone with his 
life not knowing much. . . Men's minds 
were awry with their openness. It was 
the gooey dark of it that made the 

tabloids, which were run by people as 
fuzzy-minded as the rest of us. People 
wanted to join up and be concrete. 

One couldn't disarm, or detoxify, or 
burn the books. It was all done. If there 
were a way to sever one's own head, the 
cause and center of the new freedom, it 
would be the most popular thing among 
the reasonably mature. Mary would be 
a statistic in a few years. The next 
generations would consist of those peo- 
ple like me who had once found the act 
of watching television inexpressibly 
soothing in its seep of ruthless optimism. 


the ozone is deep and impenetrable the earthquake 
is just around the corner the quagmire and its highway 
errant signposts a deliverance like a gospel song 
nothing really happens an old thought 

the decades are collapsed into something thin as a dime 
america is still standing though not so old as the 

kingdom of saxony 
mutton-chop whiskers crystallized on the last holy roman 

the context is lacking I move unpaced through the masterworks 
reciting and memorizing each word and line 

lacking context 
the last words for a poem on the theme of CACA MADRE recur to me 
even as my infant home is hurtled back to earth by a televised 

the same magazine which rejected my finest efforts the bay laps 
its own scum in pride the waters rise around my knees 
in the repeated nightmare of mopping up the residual discourse 
tongue is rent from root 

Criseyde will advertise loss of virtue 
commitments to the gross epicure of the twentieth century 

agronomics space-works apologetics for atomic dabbling 
laboratories polemical disputes robes of the erudite 
My Blue Heaven Morning Glory Seeds 

I am hiding in the plumbing 
the jazz is turned off nothing cold nothing hot 
europe has just escaped from the asiatic flu 

where are you? 
on her universal juke-box MADONNA tells me I'm an Angel 

we're going riding on the freeway of love in her pink cadillac 
unresolved promises of the american dream in her lap 
film-works words of the unconscious masters of symbolism 
conditions of an enervating and endless turn of the Century 
desolated by the peak experiences 

reduced to ocean floors 
one half mile below the raging waves of fortune 

with difficulty midnight texts ON OLD AGE as if to gain comfort 
before the day is done before the Big One hits 

by Ivan Arguelles 

Mary left. I fixed a funny sandwich 
and laughed as I ate it. The upstairs 
tenant stomped three times and I 
laughed some more, then stified myself 
in a pillow. Sometime in there I kicked 
the cat, who bit my leg, which twitched 
in pain and kicked the cat, who ran. I 
invented the symphony orchestra, 
which received a major grant from the 
president. That humane entity was my 
friend for sure. 

—Jacques Servin 



Three Supreme Court judges die within months of each 
other and a conservative president appoints three new 
conservative judges. 

In a revolutionary court decision murderers are to be 
executed by the State in the same way they killed their 
victims: chloroformed and then beaten with a steam iron. Or 
clubbed with a baseball bat, poisoned with cyanide-laced 
aspirin, pushed off a high-rise. All under police supervision. 

Public opinion polls prove favorable to the new order. The 
State increases its arsenal: fireplace pokers, axes, an 
assortment of rocks, guns, knives and explosives. In a 
colorful burst of patriotism concerned citizens donate much 

more than can be stored. Chain saws, garden tools, land 
deeds to deep holes and steep cliffs. 

The president goes on T. V. "No more gifts until we use up 
what we've got. We'll be in touch." 

Meanwhile, dozens of prisoners on death row are stabbed, 
strangled and bludgeoned, crushed, exploded and deprived 
of oxygen. Some punishments prove rather difficult to 
administer: a drowning in a lake after being pushed from a 
motorboat, choking on a passkey hidden in a poor boy 
sandwich, starved to death in a basement crawl space, 
pushed out of a commercial jetliner; the list is insufferably 


It takes only months before the ho- 
micide rate plummets considerably. 
Cities become safer, people breathe 
easier, a sigh of relief that something has 
been successful in deterring what had 
been a spiraling, out-of-control nation- 
wide problem, as well as a disgrace. 
Simply put, few people want to die the 
same way they killed someone. Finally, 
for the first time, the death penalty is a 
deterrent for potential murderers con- 
sidering a toss of the hatchet or a plunge 
of the ice pick. 

Biblical supporters claim they've fi- 
nally been heeded. An eye for an eye, a 
tooth for a tooth. The new court 
decision fits their agenda perfectly. 
Church membership increases. 

The new death penalty is not praised 
by all; far from it. There's a large 
coalition of feminists, homosexuals and 
white collar liberals that vehemently 
oppose the passage, enactment and 
consequences of the new legislation. 
They say the State should set an exam- 
ple, an ideal, rather than imitate and 
cater to the lynch mob mentality. 

The opposite sides of the debate come 
to a confrontation in the trial of Julius 
Guarna, accused of killing a woman 
while playing Ping-Pong. He slammed a 
shot that hit her in the eye, causing 
unstoppable hemorrhaging which 
turned into a stroke which eventually 
crippled and then killed her. How can 
the State replicate such conditions? It 
would be nearly impossible to have the 
ball strike his eye and knock him dead in 
a similar fashion. Besides, the defense 
claims, it was an accident. 

And thus begins a formidable court 
challenge to the new death penalty. It's 

argued that conditions for the execution 
must be exactly the same in every detail 
as the murder itself, or else the State is 
not properly enacting its own laws. Not 
only the weapon involved, but the 
location, the conversation and the time 
of day must be faithful to the original 
circumstances. They remind the Bible 
supporters: "We want an eye tooth for 
an eye tooth, not a bicuspid for an 
incisor or a front tooth for a molar." 

The president goes on T.V. "Now 
look what you've done. You've ruined 

During the tri2il, Julius Guarna ad- 
mits that not too long before the fatal 
Ping-Pong match he'd been mad at his 
opponent and was definitely playing to 
win, no question about it. In fact, he 
testifies: "I wanted to really slaughter 
her because the time before she beat me 
pretty badly." 

His lawyer winces and puts his head 
on the table. 

The court rules that Julius Guarna 
will have to be slaughtered in a similar 

Ping-Pong professionals from the 
People's Republic of China, already 
booked for some exhibition matches on 
the west coast, are paid a little extra to 
participate in the Julius Guarna case. 
They are instructed to volley with him 
until the opportunity seems right to 
launch a fierce slam directed towards his 
eyes, either one will do. 

Foul! Protests are almost immediate. 
For one, the opposition insists that a 
woman be Guarna's opponent, just as 
his victim had been, but then the 
opposition splinters somewhat— some of 
them claiming that since Guarna, a 
man, had killed someone, a man should 
also kill him in turn. The opposition 

The president goes on T.V. "As a 
youth I, too, played a game remarkably 
similar to Ping-Pong." 

For hours on end Julius Guarna is 
forced to stand at the Ping-Pong table. 
His face, neck and shoulders are pock- 
marked and bruised by all the hard 
shots. Both of his eyes have been hit, 
repeatedly, but not directly enough to 
cause the hoped for damage and subse- 
quent death. 

Once the opposition regroups they 
insist that Julius Guarna should not be 
playing players who are so much better 
than him. After all, he wasn't that much 
better than his victim. Plus, they claim, 
none of the proceedings have any valid- 
ity unless conditions are exactly the 
same as during the moment of the 
accident, which, they insist, it was — an 
awful, mistaken accident. 

There's more debate, more bargain- 
ing. The opposition knows they won't 
have all their demands met by the State, 
and the State knows they have to give in 
somewhat or else the opposition's posi- 
tion will be strengthened because more 
and more people might see the State as 
tyrannical, unfeeling and flagrantly 
wielding its unchecked power. 

The president goes on T.V. "Anyone 
who wants to join our side will receive a 
rebate on the next digital clock radio 
they purchase at participating Standard 
Oil stations." 

There's some compromising. The 
State says they'll play the exact same 
jazz tune, "My Baby Loves Me Best 
When I'm Not There," on a portable 
radio made by Zenith, if their women 
expert players don't have to be on their 
periods, as the victim apparently was 
while playing Julius Guarna. The op- 
position agrees, but only if the women 
players also have a height and weight 
that's within one-half inch and five 
pounds of the victim's height and 
weight. Yes, says the State, but only if 
we get to continue the game all week 
instead of just Tuesdays. No, says the 
opposition — weekdays only, as Julius 
Guarna should have weekends off. The 




State also requests that the actual game 
be inside a prison institution; the same 
table, but a different locale. The oppo- 
sition balks and insists the games all be 
played in Guarna's basement, as was the 
original game of death. Finally, it's 
agreed that a room in the prison be 
refurbished to replicate the basement 
room as closely as possible: the folding 
table with the bag of tortilla chips, the 
dip, the lemonade. The cat box in the 
corner. The water softener tank, the 
cupboard filled with canning jars. 
Agreed, but the State insists they get to 
choose the brand of chips, dip and 
lemonade; that the cat box be clean, the 
water softener tank empty and the 
cupboard filled with anything they 
choose, regardless of its relevance to the 

Then there's the matter of the ball 
itself The original ball of death had 
been inadvertently crushed by an over- 
enthusiastic state trooper the night of 
the arrest. Much bargaining ensues. It's 
finally agreed that although the exact 
ball is impossible to supply, a ball of 
identical color, weight and approximate 
age can be used. This is an important 
point, as initially the People's Republic 
of China marksmen were using a heav- 
ier gauge Chinese ball which had in- 
flicted much pain on Julius Guarna. 
The opposition thinks that the lighter 
ball may be the lifesaving factor in the 

And which eye is it to be? The 
opposition says the left, of course, as the 
woman had been hit in the left eye. The 
State has nothing to say about that, and 
acquiesces, which is unusual. 

Then there's a whole host of environ- 
mental factors. The original game had 
been at night, and it was stormy and 
raining outside. It's agreed that the 
prison game will be played regardless of 
weather; however, the games will be 
played at night. 

Negotiations continue; both sides, 
particularly the opposition, claim vic- 
tory. It seems that if all these complicat- 
ed points of contention are honored in 
this case, then how can the State go 
through such complex negotiations for 
each and every case? It seems impossi- 
ble and highly unlikely they could 
reproduce each homicide execution ex- 
actly the way it originally occurred. And 
the opposition is ready to go even 
further in their quest for authenticity: 
the light bulb over the table must be as 
old as the original, balls of dust must be 
placed correctly beneath the table and a 
certain number of nonpoisonous spiders 

must be present at all times, with newly 
spun webs under at least two corners of 
the table. 

But the State will not relent; the 
Ping-Ponging of Julius Guarna contin- 
ues. The stage is set repeatedly and the 
balls are fired at his eyes. Meanwhile, 
all execution cases are stayed by a court 
injunction until the outcome of this 
historically pivotal case. 

The president goes on T.V. "Hold 
your horses! Keep your pants on!" 

Though no direct death shot has been 
made, Julius Guarna is receiving a 
rather thorough beating. His own game 
has improved drastically, so much so 
that a representative for the People's 
Republic of China team offers him the 
opportunity to try out for their squad. 
They are especially impressed with his 
defensive skills, fending off as he does 
shot after vicious shot. Guarna's cheeks 
are puffy and raw from the barrage. As 
a result, he starts growing a beard. His 
neck and upper arms are bruised and 
he's tired of standing up all the time. 
Unfortunately, he'd been wearing a 
sleeveless t-shirt and cut-offs the night of 
the tragedy, and so that's what he has to 
wear from now on while playing. 

Giant welts and strawberries swell up 
all over his body and, even worse, he's 
developed a rather debilitating case of 
tendonitis in his paddle wrist. It's too 
painful to continue, but the State is 
adamant: it has to be his eye which is the 
epicenter of his troubles, not his wrist. 
He must keep playing with his other 
arm. The big hitters from the People's 
Republic of China are brought in to 
bombard the defenseless Julius Guarna. 

The president goes on T.V. "In the 
interest of goodwill, the First Lady has 

agreed to repeat what she was doing the 
night of the famous Ping- Pong murder." 

Finally Julius Guarna's other arm 
gives out; this time it's his elbow. He 
can't even return the ball. The State 
suggests attaching a paddle to the mid- 
dle of his chest, or lots of paddles, or one 
huge paddle — a Ping-Pong ball proof 
vest. The opposition counters that he 
used his arms the night of the accidental 
death, so he must use them now while 
playing in prison. 

By this time public opposition has 
shifted overwhelmingly in favor of Jul- 
ius Guarna. Cruel and unnecessary 
punishment is what some polls claim, 
but other polls disagree. What about the 
poor victim's rights and her suffering? 
Playing Ping-Pong on weeknights is a 
small price to pay, indeed. What kind of 
execution is this anyway? 

The fateful blow comes during the 
first hour of play during the second day 
of the third week of the sixth month. By 
this time Julius Guarna is dangling in a 
body brace that's hung from a hook in 
the ceiling on his side of the Ping-Pong 
table. His feet can touch the floor only if 
he chooses, otherwise he just sort of 
hangs there, his arms and legs sticking 
out of the canvas pelvic apparatus and 
swinging gently back and forth. The 
opposition cries bloody murder because 
no such device was used by Guarna's 
victim. The State counters that she 
would of if she could of, and since 
Guarna is unable to stand on his own 
two feet and play the game — which is 
the most basic assumption in this whole 
case — then he must be propped up. 

The knockout blow, unfortunately, is 
not a blow to the eye, as is hoped. 
Clocked at close to one-hundred miles- 
per-hour, the winning shot — a fore- 
hand, roundhouse slam by a petite 
woman named Liang Naoki — strikes 
Julius Guarna in the left temple, in- 
stantly rendering him unconscious, as 
blows to the temple often do. Complica- 
tions arise, though slightly different 
from what Guarna's victim suffered; a 
different artery is involved, a different 
set of convulsions, but the result is the 
same and certainly a lot quicker. 

Julius Guarna is pronounced by the 
State unable to live any longer. The 
opposition vows an equal and opposite 
reaction of some sort. 

The president goes on T.V. "I'd like 
to thank the People's Republic of China 
Ping-Pong team for their good sports- 
manship and extremely clean locker 

— by Gregory Burnham 


Walking Out Tomorrow 

Shampoo bottles can look quite decora- 
tive when arranged in color coordination. 
But each long blond hair I pull out of the 
drain in Room 14 has the word quit written 
all over it. And when I pick up the water 
glass with my soapy fingers, it slips and 
shatters in the sink. That's the third glass 
this week. The thin glass fragments leave a 
cut in my hand. 

"Let's take a break." 

"Mr. Gruner said you gotta be more 
careful with the glasses. Otherwise he'll have 
to deduct them from your pay," says Mrs. 
Freese, while sitting down on the unmade 
bed in No. 14. 

"Mr. Gruner can go to hell. If the glasses 
weren't so cheap to begin with, they 
wouldn't break all the time." 

I reach into my jacket pocket to pull out 
the cigarettes and feel the reassuring enve- 
lope in my hand. The letter inside makes it 
easy to say something like that. 

"Well, you know how he is when it comes 
to money." 

I know. Ever since I started working here 
a month ago, the owner and his wife have 
been complaining that the hotel is in the red, 
and that these days hospitality just doesn't 
pay off any longer. They grudgingly agreed 
to pay me minimum wage. I had to promise 
not to tell the others how much I'm getting 
for scraping toothpaste out of twenty-six 
sinks. When I told Mrs. Freese, I found out 
she is earning half that much, and so is 
Angle, whose job it is to cut the mildew out 
of the bread. And of course the kids' help is 
free, apart from a few slaps here and a 
spanking there. 

"Why do you let them use you like that?" I 
asked her then. 

"Ah." she said with a sigh, "I've been 
working here all my life. I was already here 
when Mr. Gruner was still a baby. I used to 
change his diapers. I can't just leave. What 
would they do without me?" 

There is something different about her 

"Are you wearing different glasses?" 

She takes them off and rubs her nose, 

while I light my cigarette. 

"I didn't think you'd notice. These ones 
don't fit very well." 

She smiles an embarrassed smile. Now I 
see the bruise on the bridge of her nose. 

"My God — what happened to your nose?" 

"Didn't you hear? I fell. It happened 
yesterday. I was carrying the laundry bas- 
ket, and I stumbled over that step out in the 
yard, the one over by the parking lot. I 
broke my glasses. Now I gotta wear these, 
while my regular ones are being fixed. But 
these ones hurt my nose." 

"What did your doctor say about your 
nose? Shouldn't you stay home for a while? 
Maybe it's fractured." 

"I don't wanna go to the doctor. I know 
what he'd say. He'd make me stay home. 
But I can't. They need me here, you see." 

It sounds as if she is apologizing to me. 
That makes me angry. I remember what she 
told me about her life, and again I feel the 
desperate urge to somehow remove the old 
woman from the calculating claws of the 
hotel owners. In a wild moment I visualize 
throwing a soggy towel over her head and 
leading her through the backdoor to free- 
dom. But she would always find her way 
back here. Just like she did ten years ago. 
That was the time she didn't want to be used 
any longer. She had been offered a job at the 
local public pool. It was good job. All she 
had to do was sit in the sun and hand out 
bathing caps. The pay was better, and she 
even got annual leave. 

"And why, for God's sake, didn't you stay 
there?" I asked her. 

"Well, one day Mr. Gruner came over 
with the wife and the children. And they all 
got down on their knees right in front of 
everybody, even the children did; and they 
all begged me to come back. They needed 
me. So I came back." 

She needs to be needed. 

"I'm just glad you're here to help me," she 
says now, smoothing out the bed. "The 
bathrooms were always a bit too much for 
me, since they can't spare Angle in the 
kitchen. I can't imagine what I'd do without 


This is probably the right moment to tell 
her that today is my last day of wiping 
flooded floors. But instead I move on to 
Room 15. 

"I'm really happy with your work," she 
continues across the hallway, while I collect 
fingernail clippings from the shower tub. 
"The last girl didn't do a very good job. And 
then she just quit on me, without saying a 

I hurry up with No. 15. 

No. 16 dyed her hair and everything 
around it, and it takes me a while to get the 
mahogany out of the cracks between the 
tiles. I notice that No. 22 still hasn't given up 
on his athlete's foot, and that Room 26 
moved out early this morning. Most guests 
leave Alistair McLean books or half-empty 
whiskey bottles behind. This one didn't flush 
his toilet. 

I really should be happy that I don't have 
to come back tomorrow. 

"Have a nice day," says Mrs. Freese. 
"And please try to get here early tomorrow. 
We're having a wedding party for fifty 
people tomorrow night, and I don't even 
know how I'm gonna do it all, with Angle 
being sick with the flu." 

I go downstairs to the reception area to 
collect my first and last paycheck from Mr. 
Gruner. It takes me a while to locate him. 
He must have had a look at the calendar. I 
hand him my list of accumulated hours. He 
walks into his office and returns with my 

"Here," he says. "But from now on I'd 
prefer to pay you on a weekly basis. That 
way we can keep a better check on things." 

They probably had to change his diapers 
a lot. 

And while I walk over to the parking lot, I 
realize why I am unable to feel any joy. I 
changed my mind without even knowing it. 
I can't accept this clerical job at the local 
police station. It would have been a good 
job. But I can't just walk out on the old. 
woman, now that she really needs me. 

— Anne Ellsworth 


Hell On the 
33rd Floor 


JVlona had worked at Schlager Me- 
morial Hospital before, on the thirty- 
second floor. As a Sic Transit tempo- 
rary, she specialized in statistical typing. 
It paid better than straight typing and 
was less maddening than listening to 
bored executives' voices on a dicta- 
phone, but it was still shitty work. 

Despite the dullness of the work, the 
employees in the Nursing Department 
had been congenial, so she didn't mind 
returning. But when she arrived at the 
hospital, she was steered to the thirty- 
third floor, to Fund Raising. 

"In here," said the supervisor, show- 
ing her into a small, dark, windowless 

"Thank you," said Mona to the wom- 
an's retreating back. In the office, a 
hugely fat blond woman in a flowered 
polyester smock sat at a small bare desk. 
A word processor, its screen glowing 
green, hummed behind her. 

"Good morning," said Mona timidly. 
"I'm the temp from Sic Transit Tem- 
poraries. Are you Ms. Lewis?" 

"Miss," said the fat woman. Her voice 
was breathy, as if her fat squeezed her 
lungs. "We've been needing a temp since 
our last girl left. The work is outlined on 
those sheets of yellow paper." She point- 
ed a round finger at a stack of yellow 
lined paper next to an ancient Smith- 
Corona portable typewriter. 

Mona's heart sank. At large corpora- 
tions she worked on state-of-the-art 
equipment, but at non-profit organiza- 
tions the typewriters were always strictly 

World War Two. (The best equipment 
she'd ever worked on, in fact, was in the 
offices of a major liquor distributor.) 
Mona seated herself at the rickety 
typing table. There was barely enough 
room for her legs underneath. 

"You can understand it, can't you?" 
asked Miss Lewis, evidently referring to 
the typing. Her blond hair was in a 
messy bouffant. Stray wisps escaped 
from the sides. 

"Oh, yes, it seems to be straight 
columns. My name is Mona." She 
smiled. Mona prided herself on her 
friendliness and easy disposition. Most 
companies that hired her asked for her 

Miss Lewis smiled back, but it was a 
tight, strained smile. "Hello, Mona," 
she said. "Nice name, Mona. You don't 
meet too many women named Mona. 
My mother's name was Mona." 

"Is that a fact?" Mona sat down at the 
typewriter and shuffled through the 
yellow paper. 

"Yes," said Miss Lewis. "She's dead 
now. Died of cancer of the jaw. It was a 
terrible sight. Most of her face was eaten 
away." She spoke in an emotionless 
monotone. "Had to take most of her 
food through tubes. Nice name, Mona. 
My name is Winifred. I'm named after 
my Aunt Winifred. She's dead, too." 

"I'm sorry," Mona said nervously, 
and began typing. She hoped that 
pretending absorption in her work 
would make Miss Lewis stop talking. 

"There's a lot of death in the world, 
don't you think?" Miss Lewis asked, as if 

Mona were listening raptly. "I've tried 
to kill myself five times. Almost 
succeeded, too. You'd want to kill 
yourself, too, if you'd been through 
what I'd been through." 

Mona stared at her for a minute, 
unable to believe her ears. "Gosh, do 
you know where they keep the white 
unlined paper?" 

"Bottom drawer." Miss Lewis pointed 
to a standing file cabinet. 

"Have you been here long?" Mona 
asked after she had fetched the paper. 

"Me? No, only six months. I was a 
temporary, too. I was fired from this job 
only last week." Miss Lewis shifted in 
her chair. "I've got another week to go. 
Started in the typing pool, but then they 
put me in this cubbyhole." She made a 
disgusted noise. "I don't know why. I'm 
a very social person. Are you a very 
social person?" 

Mona glanced at the wall clock. Dear 
God, she thought, it was only ten- 
fifteen. She decided to tell Sic Transit 
that she couldn't work tomorrow, lest 
they send her back here. "Yes," she said, 
and resumed typing. 

"Very interesting, yes," said Miss 
Lewis. "I've never had many friends, 
but I'm a very social person. One has to 
be, don't you think? To survive." 

"Friends make the world go round," 
Mona muttered. 

Miss Lewis's nails tapped on the 
surface of her desk. "My mother never 
said that," she snapped. "She just said 
'do this' or 'comb your hair* or 'go to 
college.' I didn't go to college. She did. 
She was a brilliant woman. But she 
died. Cancer of the jaw. I live in the 
shadow of death." 

Mona stared at the columns of num- 
bers. She wished she was back on the 
thirty-second floor. "Do you have a 
bottle of White Out?" 

Miss Lewis shoved the bottle across 
her desk to where Mona could reach it. 

"Have jiou ever had cancer?" Miss 
Lewis asked. 

Taken aback, Mona laughed. "Not 


that I know of!" 

"It's a terrible thing," Miss Lewis said 


"Yes, Mona. We all live in the 
shadow of death, even you. You're very 
young, aren't you?" 

"I'm twenty-two." 

"Twenty-two. Yes, very interesting." 

Mona felt Miss Lewis's tiny sharp 
eyes on her. But she resolutely went on 
typing columns of numbers. 

"Young and pretty," said Miss Lewis. 
"I was pretty when I was twenty-two. 
Now I'm old and fat." 

"You're not old," Mona said politely. 

"I'm not?" Miss Lewis leaned for- 
ward. "How old a woman would you say 
I am?" 

Mona looked up at her. The woman 
was so fat that her age was indistin- 
guishable. Any wrinkles Miss Lewis 
might have had were plumped out of the 
smooth, pink face. "I would guess you 
were, uh, thirty-four?" 

Miss Lewis smiled. Evidently Mona 
had guessed wrong. "I look young for 
my age, don't you think? That's because 
I feel like a girl, not a woman. I'm 
sexually underdeveloped, Mona." 

Oh, God, Mona thought. 

"Yes, the first time was about two 
years ago. I haven't since, I don't know 
why. But men die too, Mona." Miss 
Lewis leaned back. "They think they're 
so great, but they die," she said cheer- 
fully. "I like to play with myself, though. 
I put on a negligee and look in the 
mirror. It's cdmost as good as having a 
boyfriend. Do you play with yourself, 

"No!" Mona cried, even though she 

"Too bad." Miss Lewis' gaze drifted to 
Mona's hands. "You type very well. I 
wish I had a skill. I don't really run this 
word processor, they just put it in here 

to look like I have something to do. Do 
you have a boyfriend?" 


"Is he nice?" 

"Very nice." 

"Do you sleep with him?" 

Mona nodded, typing furiously. She 
would probably have to do the page all 
over again. 

"You look like the sort of woman who 
yells a lot when she makes love," Miss 
Lewis said speculatively. "My mother 
did. Do you?" 

This was getting ridiculous, Mona 
thought. "That's none of your — " 

"I'd like to have a boyfriend," Miss 
Lewis interrupted. "I had one, once, I 
met him through an ad in a Village Voice 
that I found on the subway. We went 
out once. It was nice. We were supposed 
to go out Friday night, but he stood me 

Exasperated, Mona said, "You'll have 
to pardon me. Miss Lewis, but I have a 
lot of work to do." She patted the pile of 
yellow paper. "See how much I have to 
do by twelve?" 

"I don't know why he stood me up." 
Miss Lewis went on as if the other 
woman had not spoken. "I'm a very fun 
person. That was why I attempted 

Mona's stomach lurched. "Please, 
Miss Lewis — " 

Miss Lewis stared off into space, a 
frown on her round face. "I was watch- 
ing the Home Shopping Network when 
the urge came over me. I ran into the 
bathroom and gulped down a whole 
bottle of Extra- Strength Tylenol. But 
then I threw up. Must have been a sign 
from God, don't you think?" 

"Please," said Mona again. 

"If you're meant to live, you're meant 
to live, in whatever damaged condition 
you come into the world." Miss Lewis 
sighed. "But we all die. My mother died. 



Her body wasted away, got thinner and 
thinner and she had to take all these 
drugs and — " 

Suddenly Mona was on her feet, the 
typing forgotten. "Stop it!" she pleaded. 
"Stop it, I can't stand it! Please, please 
stop talking and let me work!" 

Miss Lewis glared at her. "You see?" 
she said. "You're just like everyone else. 
And I thought you were different." She 
shrugged. "Makes the world go around." 

"SHUT UP!" Mona cried. "I'm going 
home! I don't care about the money. I 
don't care what the agency thinks. I 
can't stand it any longer!" 

She tore open the door and ran out 
into the corridor, gasping for air. 

Miss Lewis stared after her for several 
minutes, then picked up the telephone 
on her desk. 

"Hello, Personnel?" she said into the 
receiver. "This is Winifred Lewis. I'm 
afraid the new temporary didn't work 
out. She's gone home, sick or some- 
thing. I don't know why that agency 
can't send better people. We pay them 
enough. Could you send over one of the 
temps from Methods & Procedures? 
Thank you so much." 

Half an hour later a young girl came 
into the office. "Good morning," she 
said. "You needed a temp?" 

"Yes," said Miss Lewis. "We've been 
shorthanded since our last girl left. My 
name is Winifred Lewis. What's your 

"Charlie," said the girl. 

"Hello, Charlie." Miss Lewis beamed. 
"Nice name, Charlie. My mother's 
name was Charlie. Short for Charlotte, 
of course." 

"My, what a coincidence!" The girl 
sat down at the typewriter. 

"Makes the world go round," said 
Miss Lewis. 

— Elisa DeCarlo 




Ace Backwords ©i"*"? 





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SMO>C«;' SAID 'BOB.- , 

fiuT IT XMW'r ENt> 
THEl?£/// SOON 'Sob' 

SoMtnMES 5M0« ON 
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coNNECTiow fig: 


I'll be right there," my oldest broth- 
er Steve said over the 'phone and hung 
up. No customers in the shop, he spoke 
freely to me. "It's the ol' man. He got 
into trouble again." He sighed. "Trouble 
is his middle name." 

"What'd he do this time?" 

"He and his buddy Zipsky were 
drinking all morning, beginning of the 
month social security check celebration. 
The Town Tavern not being air condi- 
tioned and it being a warm October 
day, they decided to cool off. They went 
swimming in the Valley Stream Lake in 
their long-johns. The Police picked 
them up and took them to the Police 

"Since Mom died and he retired, he's 
got too much time on his hands," I said. 

Steve took off his white butcher 
apron, saying, "I've got an idea. I'll ask 
him to work in the shop part-time. I'll 
tell him the customers have been com- 
plaining we don't make Italian and 
Polish sausage as good as he does. It 
won't stop him from drinking or getting 
into trouble, but it might lessen it." 

Ignatius Ananicz was named after St. 
Ignatius of Loyola, the patron saint of 
retreats, the founder of the Jesuit order, 
the author of the classic The Spiritual 
Exercises. This gnome-like saint wasn't 
tall, handsome, or strong. This genius- 
mystic was never heard to abuse anyone 

or use a scornful word. He was calm, 
temperate, angelic. He wasn't at all like 
one of his namesakes, better known in 
Elmont as Ignatz, Ignacy, Butch or Iggy 
the Wild Russian. It's been said what- 
ever saint's name is given to you at 
birth, God automatically assigns that 
saint to be your guardian angel. If this is 
so, St. Ignatius was busy indeed watch- 
ing over and protecting Iggy's body and 
soul from his zany escapades. 

Steve picked our father and Zipsky up 
at the police station and took them to his 
house for lunch. Later, when I saw my 
father coming into the shop and go into 
the bathroom, I knew Steve had talked 
him into returning to work. While my 
father put an apron on, Steve told me 
when he dropped Zipsky off at his house 
our father gave him some money. Later, 
when Zipsky came into the shop carry- 
ing a bottle-shaped brown bag, we knew 
what our father had given him money 
for. Zipsky went into the back room 
where my father was making Italian 
sausages. An hour later, both came out 
front a little tipsy. 

Wanting to break their drinking bout 
Steve went over to our father and asked , 
him if he'd stay and slice enough Italian 
style veal cutlets for tonight and Satur- 

My father nodded and told Zipsky 
he'd see him after work in the Town 

Tavern. Then he went into the refriger- 
ator and came out carrying a crate of 
boneless legs of veal. He put it on the 
floor alongside the meat block closest to 
the refrigerator. After opening it, he 
began cutting the veal into sections, 
preparing them for slicing. 

Meanwhile, my 2 brothers and I 
waited on the customers coming into the 

Nearly 5 p.m., one of my father's 
Russian customers, a widow in her 
sixties, came in, saw my father, and 
said, "Hi Butch." 

Wearing a short sleeved shirt. Butch 
looked up from his meat block. "Hello 
Mrs. Kishka." He laid his knife down on 
his meat block and went over to the 
showcase. Elbows leaning on the white 
porcelain counter, he looked Mrs. 
Kishka up and down as she stood next to 
the 2 women Steve and I were waiting 
on. "Mrs. Kishka, you're a nice strong 
healthy looking Russian woman. You're 
not like these skinny American women. 
You have a nice shape. How much do 
you weigh — about 195 pounds?" 

Chest like a pair of basketballs, Mrs. 
Kishka replied, "You're close." 

"You're like that singer Kate Smith; I 
like that type." 

Wearing no make-up, Mrs. Kishka 
smiled, "I like your type — tall, dark, and 


"You know Mrs. Kishka, women are 
like steak, if there's no fat on them, 
they're not good." 

Steve walked by my meat block, 
muttering, "They're acting like teen- 

Hearing him, my father gave him a 
nasty look, then looked at Mrs. Kishka. 
"You know Mrs., I've got 3 fancy sons. 
That is, they think they're fancy. But 
when they go to the toilet, they stink it 
up just like I do." 

Mrs. Kishka put her hand across her 
mouth and chuckled. "My daughter's 
like that." 

Steve walked by me muttering, "That 
fat broad laughs at every stupid thing he 
says. It must have taken all day to pierce 
her fat ear lobes." 

Hearing this too, my father said to 
Mrs. Kishka, "When my skinny sons 
and their skinny wives get together, it 

looks like a consumptive gathering." 

Mrs. Kishka again chuckled. 

"My sons asked me to work again. 
They don't know how to make good 
sausages. They've got cottage cheese 

Again Mrs. Kishka chuckled. 

"Would you like a drink?" 


"Come into the back room." Mrs. 
Kishka followed him into the back. 

The 3 of us went about our work. 
Every now and then we'd hear bursts of 
laughter coming from the back room. 

About a half hour later, Steve asked 
me to call our father. "Tell him we need 
veal cutlets." Steve stood near the back 
door when I opened it. We saw our 
father kissing Mrs. Kishka. After Mrs. 
Kishka left the store, Steve went into the 
back room and began yelling at him. 
"Say what you think this back room 

is — a parlor? Next time take your 
girlfriend to the Tavern for a drink." 

"This is my back room and my butcher 
shop. I'll bring whoever I want here. 
You better watch your step. 'Cause if 
you don't, I'll give you a big kick-in-the- 
ass-get-the-hell-out-of-my-shop. This is 
what I get for coming to back to work to 
help you." 

Steve came out front and began 
serving 1 of the 4 customers now in the 

My father came out front and went 
behind the customers' side of the counter 
and took his apron off. "I quit." Then he 
rolled his apron into a ball and threw it 
over the counter into Steve's face. "You 
know what you can do with that." He 
opened the glass front door, walked out, 
and slammed it. 

— Frank Ananicz 


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When I ask for a hand, 
they give me a shovel. 
If I complain, they say. 
Worms are needles at work 
to clothe a corpse for spring. 
I sigh. Whoever breathes 
has inhaled a neighbor. 


He said: The sky 's so blue there, 
you could bathe your feet in it. 

And his emotion rose like dust 
behind a passing truck. 
He always coughs on his lunch. 
His eyes are faded, like his shirt. 

He smiles: / was strong then, 
as big as a young barn. 

What can you do for a man? 
Time is an old boss 
we hate together . . . 


The hammer lowered its horns 

and the rusty nail shrieked 

pulled from the place where it lived 

The table-saw whined 
like a virtuous bee 
that knows it will die 
in a meadow of dust 

The sandpaper sighed 

as it killed itself 

caressing the sugar pine the ash 

The housepainter's brush 


with a long stem a vaginal voice 

and a spring in its bristle 

swayed satisfied with itself on the wall 

Glue the woodworker's sperm 
began to boil in the pot 

The rags their breath 

full of turpentine 

demanded their rights 

and threatened to burst like the sun 

Then the woman 
who turned into a mop 
disheveled grey 
worn out by the floor 

and the man 
who'd become a broom 
his broad shoulder 
lost in the dirt 

noticed how even a motor 
bleeds when it breaks 
drops of oil stare from its skin 
like the eyes of frightened fish 

Bert Meyers (1928-1979) was born in Los Angeles. Self-educated, he published five 
books and won numerous awards. His work has been much praised by poets such as 
Robert Bly, Denise Levertov and Marianne Moore. 

A member of no literary school or clique, for many years he worked with his hands and 
was a skilled picture framer and gilder. He received a master's degree, with no 
undergraduate credits, and taught literature at the college level for the last 10 years of his 

His quiet, elegant and direct poems were built by a craftsman, to last. They are inspired 
portraits of common moments, people and objects surrounded by an increasingly 
processed world. Bukowski tells us how the untouchables among us live; Bert Meyers 
transcribed the inner and outer lives of those who work for wages, raise families and pay 

This mainly work-related selection of poems was taken from The Dark Birds (1966?), 
Sunlight on the Wall (1976) and The Wild Olive Tree (1982). 

— klipschutz 




The Shop, weakened by dust, was closing its eyes. 
The saw stopped like an ambulance. A breeze made of 
turpentine still hung around his hands. 

Outside, the walls in the alley were gold leaf 
fluttering on their frames; clouds, retired housepainters, 
relaxed in the sky. 

A little cello began to throb in his throat. 
Suddenly, he saw the sun overturn like a truckload 
of oranges at the end of a street — its light scatter and 
roll through the windows on a hill. 

What's that got to do with Wittgenstein, or how we 
live? voices shouted in his head. 
Nothing . . . nothing at all. 

A whole day at the saw — 
when they come for the rubbish, 
I throw myself 
out with the dust. 

We smile and smoke and praise 
what's left of the sun. 
Dark trees have bottled its light. 
They glow like many beers. 


My fingers feed in the fields of wood. 

I sand pine, walnut, bass, 
and sweat to raise their grain. 

Paints, powder and brush 
are the seasons of my trade. 

At the end of the day 

I drive home 

the proud cattle of my hands. 


Nothing but grey seen through the arch- 
as if triumph were an abyss 
into which a nation marches. 

by Bert Meyers 

© 1989 Odette Meyers 
Used with her kind permission. 

Workplace organizing, the "office of 
the future," environmental issues, the 
Pentagon, psychology, consumption, 
foreign capital, and production all con- 
verge in the Silicon Valley. Most studies 
of The Valley have been at best one 
sided and historically blind. Such is not 
the case with Behind The Silicon Curtain: 
The Seductions of Work in a Lonely Era, by 
Dennis Hayes (Boston: South End 
Press, 1989). At a recent reading and 
discussion of this book, long-time Proc- 
essed World contributor Dennis Hayes 
disputed the classification of his book as 
"Labor/Sociology." Properly, it should 
be called "Lost History," for it is a 
history of the Silicon Valley, and it deals 
with events that have perhaps not been 
deliberately hidden, but have certainly 
been lost, at least for the people most 
affected by the changes wrought by the 
micro-electronics industry. Like all use- 
ful history, it speaks to the present about 
future possibilities. 

Mr. Hayes traces the growth and 
change of this industry, oudining the 
spectacular claims of industry boosters, 
its equally opulent (and conspicuous) 
corporate consumption, and its swift 
debilitation. As he puts it, "It was as if 
the youthful industry had contracted 
progeria, a rare disease that struck down 
toddlers with the infirmities of advanced 

What might seem the denouement 
— the shrinking and exporting of the 
industry from its cradle — is actually the 
starting point. Kudoka, the Japanese 

call It: the "hollowing out" of the United 
States' productive capacity by corpora- 
tions moving production to distant 
shores. The newest working poor, the 
hidden contaminations, the absence of 
community, the empty offices and 
plants, all echo the slower, but no less 
permanent, transformation of the Unit- 
ed States' earlier industries. This very 
process is possible only because of the 
electronics industry's success; the mi- 
nute chips can be made anywhere, but 
the coordination that allows such far 
flung enterprises depends on the sophis- 
ticated products of the electronics 

As a corollary to exporting produc- 
tion to off-shore zones, industry "im- 
ports" workers (both legal and illegal) 
from those same shores. While assembly 
workers used to earn about ten dollars 
hourly, they are more commonly paid 
half that now. In the third world these 
wages must be alluring; but in Silicon 
Valley in 1988 $13 an hour was consid- 
ered a substandard wage! 

If there is little money, there is no 
community. From the highest levels to 
the lowest, transience marks the life of 
workers in the industry — whether as 
temps, short-term professionals, or as 
illegals ceaselessly on the move. Work- 
ers are constantly shifting from job to 
job, area to area, in a ceaseless dance 
that mirrors the mobility of capital — 
now shifting from one line to another, 
from one country to another, from one 
owner to another. This flux reduces any 

chance for collective responses, both 
subjectively (people are more likely to 
see getting another job as a solution), 
and objectively (by presenting compa- 
ny-wide unions with endlessly "new^' 
groups of workers, as well as the threat 
that the company itself will simply pack 
up and disappear). The reluctance of 
traditional unions to venture into these 
new industrial areas is perhaps a reflec- 
tion of this. 

The industry poses (mostly hidden) 
health threats: workers are threatened 
by the chemicals they work with; local 
residents may breathe or drink wastes; 
and the "consumers" of the product 
(often other workers) "enjoy" the haz- 
ards of sped-up production, repetitive 
stress injuries, and microwave radia- 
tion. Most companies are at best indif- 
ferent to these threats, and state agen- 
cies have been less than aggressive in 
protecting the "public health," giving lip 
service to the dangers while engaging in 
endless studies. 

The threat isn't simply physical, but 
extends to the mental health of the 
worker, and indirectly to the rest of the 
world, for Silicon Valley's customers are 
not simply corporations, but also in- 
clude the U.S. military. The weapons' 
industry is perhaps the biggest client of 
the electronics age, yet most literature 
about Silicon Valley ignores this. The 
isolation experienced by most workers is 
exacerbated by the security require- 
ments of the Pentagon contractors. 
Here we see perhaps the deadliest 


isolation: that of the worker from the 
product. This ahenation, combined 
with work situations and personal out- 
looks that further separate workers, 
results in a monastic dedication to 
arcane technology. Mr. Hayes sums up: 
"Reckoning moral responsibility by 
measuring the distance between one's 
labor and the product is a legitimate 
inquiry, but only if one can hope to 
measure reliably. The division of labor 
in military electronics suggest the inter- 
dependency and responsibility of all 
workers but — and this is the paradox 
— encourages profound distance be- 
tween worker and product. . . As a 
result, workers can manufacture, in 
addition to military electronics, a na- 
ivete about the impact of their labors 
and, at least among obliging and com- 
plicit workers, escape ridicule for an 
ill-gotten innocence." 

While there is a romance to the 
work — certainly an absorbing fascina- 
tion, it is also, especially in the work- 
place, a high-pressure and all-absorbing 
task. Mr. Hayes conjures up the ghost 
of Charles Babbage, who helped con- 
ceive of the earliest calculating ma- 
chines. Babbage was also one of the 
foremost advocates of "rationalizing" 
work — of breaking all tasks into simple, 
repetitive steps, a process which helped 
shatter the old craft guilds. The com- 
puter industry itself (especially software) 
has mostly resisted this trend. The 
technique known as "structured pro- 
gramming" is revealed to be both a tool 
grasped by the programmer to increase 
his (or her) ability to tackle large tasks, 
and a tool for the managers to attempt 
to control the programmers and to 
streamline the production of software. 
In fact, it has not dramatically helped 
increase the efficiency of programming, 
but it has allowed a greater separation 
between worker and product, especially 
in the military world, where it reinforces 
the "need-to-know" atmosphere. 

The flip side of the team programmer 
is the individual hacker, alternately 
reviled as saboteur and praised as 
innocent techno-wizard. The typical 
hacker doesn't have a political program; 
the motivations are access to more 
computing power and a desire to ex- 
plore the electronic net that grids the 
(developed) world. In reality, most 
sabotage of business and government 
systems comes from disgruntled em- 
ployees, past and present. Most of this is 
not reported (less than 2%), for fear of 
panicking nervous stock-holders and 
customers. While this form of attack has 

rarely been openly political, it "quietly 
suggests something larger than petty 
electronic sniping and greed: a latent 
collective power available to millions of 
computer workers, a power that can 
press their political interests successfully 
against their employers everywhere." 

Although small "professional respon- 
sibility" organizations have sprung up, 
they have done as much (or more) to 
limit the acceptable range of opposition 
as they have done to limit abuses of 
technology. The "Computer Profession- 
als" organization has shaped the debate 
around Star Wars as a debate about 
technical feasibility, rather than desira- 
bility. It is deemed "irresponsible" to 
recommend active computerized resis- 
tance as a source of workers' power 
because it is perceived as a medium of 
employee crime and 'terrorism.'" One 
suspects that the proper name should be 
"Computer Professionals for Social Re- 
spectability," for they never question the 
system that created them. This technol- 
ogy is so powerful, and its consequences 
so devastating, that it must not be 
blindly pursued. Yet calls for social 
control fall on deaf ears. Indeed, they 
are often seen as attacks on the wonder- 
ful world of work, at least by industry 
professionals. The real danger is not in 
database raiding, or angry employees 
erasing your credit records, but rather 
from the naivete and technological fas- 
cination of these people. Their toys are 
out of control, and they will suffer no 
wider responsibilities. 

Beyond the long hours and involve- 
ment, these people betray serious prob- 
lems in the new workplace. Far from 
representing a revitalization of the 
work-ethic, they reveal a profound iso- 
lation. Various corporate cultures have 
attempted to increase the seduction of 
work, and to provide palliatives for that 
same seduction. The new professionals, 
unlike those of the 19th century, are not 
"helping professionals," and they lack 
the guild-like solidarity of the earlier 
age. Isolated physically in suburbs 
among unrecognized neighbors, 
trapped in traffic, and then absorbed 
into a specific task, the psychological 
make-up of the new professional guar- 
antees that isolation will be redoubled; 
indeed, the "masochistic self-denial. . . 
an operational withdrawal from families 
and social life, and a pre-emptive defer- 
ral of social responsibility" can only lead 
to a reinforcement of the physical pat- 
terns of their lives. 

The maintenance of individual psy- 
chological balance takes many forms: 

perhaps an excessive dedication to 
health and fitness (at times to the point 
of injury) that denies the risks around 
them or perhaps by the consumption of 
an estimated $500 million worth of 
drugs (in 1985). The large numbers of 
individuals undergoing therapy reveal 
not just the psychological pressures, but 
also the isolated nature of the response 
to a collective problem. 

When all of this fails (or succeeds), 
one can always drive to the mall for a 
little excitement. Silicon Valley deni- 
zens inhabit the shopping centers more 
than most other Americans, spurred on 
by the manipulations of desire and 
artificial gratification engineered by the 
VALS (Values and Lifestyles) program. 
In this place of little human contact the 
commodity reigns supreme — both as the 
end-product of work and as the raison 
d'etre of life. These people aren't mater- 
ialists in the normal sense, for "they 
pursue the fantastic symbols offered by 
commodities. . ." rather than the item 
itself Conspicuous consumption is 
other-directed (they can see how well 
off, how tasteful you are), while the new 
consumption attempts to satisfy unmet 
needs and a lack of integration (both 
social and psychological). 

Another compensatory mechanism is 
found in groups such as World Without 
War, which is therapy disguised as 
politics, for it lets participants feel good 
about what they're doing, even as they 
continue to produce for the military. It 
also serves to sidetrack any opposition 
into the fairy-land of ideails and 

This excellent book won't be spoiled 
by quoting from the last paragraph: 
"The Information Age has stripped us of 
our social sensibilities, but it has not 
consigned us to a new dark age. For all 
the ennui it has brought us, our infatua- 
tion with electronics technology has also 
placed the levers of social change within 
reach of those previously declared pow- 
erless or marginal. An indomitable 
power to subvert economic and political 
policy now resides in the consoles of 
over 30 million computer workers who 
process the fiscal, economic, and social 
alchemy that is late capitalism. It is a 
lever contemporary social critiques 
largely ignore; perhaps rightly so. For 
without the political will, or at least a 
glimmer of collective self-consciousness, 
the lever cannot be pulled on behalf of 
meaningful and popular change." 

Indeed. Read this Book! 
¥ ^ -¥^ ■¥■ 

— reviewed by P. Morales 



"Hither you have come to appear on the 

stage, but first 
You must tell us: What is the point?" 

I was disturbed to find Allen Krebs' 
"Children of the Night" in Processed 
World 23. Krebs' despairing portrait of 
socizil relations inside the urban schools 
is offensive and unfocused. What is the 
point of his writing? If Krebs had sought 
to simply present a "tale of toil," as the 
editorial collective so labeled his piece, I 
would not be writing in response. If 
Krebs' point was simply that substitute 
teaching is hell, his readers could en- 
thusiastically commiserate with his fate 
and enjoy the anecdotes he shares. 

Unfortunately, Krebs is not content 
to simply relate his experiences. In- 
stead, his article both begins and ends 
with an ill-conceived analysis of school- 
ing in an urban community. His analy- 
sis is based solely on his own superficial 
observations. Krebs maintains that the 
Oakland Public Schools "are places of no 
account, the bottom of the line." He 
believes that the schools are simply 
"holding facilities, warehouses." Krebs' 
analysis parallels the theoretical work of 
structuralists of many shades. The pos- 
sibility that the school itself could be a 
contested social space — an arena where 
individuals engage in various forms of 
resistance and where a myriad of socie- 
tal struggles work themselves out — is 

"All you put before us are victims, acting 

Like helpless victim of inner impulses and 

outside powers. " 

Krebs' school community is a com- 
munity of helpless victims. Students are 
seen as only engaging in self-destructive 
forms of resistance. Krebs, engaging in 
a healthy dose of racial stereotyping, 
makes the assertion that Asian students 
are the only notable exception to this 
behavioral norm. "Asian kids," notes 
Krebs, "sweep the honor roll. . . and in 
class the behavior of these kids is 


exemplary: quiet, industrious and curi- 
ous." That many Asian students do not 
fit this stereotype and that non-Asian 
students also can be seen with these 
same "exemplary" traits are realities not 
fully explored. In fact, his comments 
and observations on "the good student" 
are ignored in his analysis. The reader is 
meant to excuse Krebs' digression on 
the school's successes and return to the 
more important task of identifying its 

The failures of the school are seen 
both in the absence of "learning" and in 
the students themselves. Krebs main- 
tains that "learning is largely incapable 
of attainment under the circumstances." 
What forms of learning Krebs appar- 
ently is concerned about are unidenti- 
fied. The reader is left on his or her own 
to ponder how an individual could fail to 
learn from his or her daily experiences. 

Krebs more disturbingly seems to 
blame the students themselves for many 
of the shortcomings of the schools. 
Krebs misidentifies the "structural 
problems of the schools" as those relat- 
ing to decay and inadequate mainte- 
nance of the physical plant. The more 
significant problem of an oppressive 
sociail structure is ignored. Krebs while 
believing that "a thatched shack in the 
jungle" can provide "a superb environ- 
ment for learning," maintains that in 
Oakland "sordidness is massively com- 
pounded by the students' own prob- 
lems." Krebs repeats this offensive — 
and, perhaps, racist — reasoning in 
blaming the schools' problems on "stu- 
dents whose backgrounds make learning 
difficult if not impossible." 

"We nou) askyou 

To change yourself and show us our world. 
As it really is: made by men and women, 
open to alteration. " 

Instead of simply blaming the victim 
and despairing in a belief that individu- 
als are powerless, the intellectual has the 
responsibility of identifying how people 
struggle to form communities and gain 

power over their lives. Such an article 
would not be content to complain about 
"the general structural problems" as if 
they were only physical. Instead the 
article would examine the bureaucracy 
in the school system and identify how 
funding appropriations are made. After 
all, the Oakland Public Schools are on 
the verge of insolvency, while at the 
same time the schools have an average 
class size that indicates an inadequate 
number of teachers working in the 
school. Where and on what is the school 
district's money being spent? In the 
midst of this crisis, what role has the 
teachers' union played in addressing the 
educational concerns of the community? 

In contrast to Krebs' portraiture of 
the student population in Oakland, 
much can be said. Oakland, after all, is 
the community where the Black Panther 
Party developed. Huey Newton and the 
others attended the Oakland Public 
Schools. Not surprisingly students 
emerging from such an environment are 
both highly politicized and race consci- 
ous. The most popular musical groups 
among the students today are groups 
with a political message (such as Public 
Enemy and Boogie Down Productions). 
Black students in the schools have begun 
to wear red, black and green African 
pendants to demonstrate their political 
commitment, and large clocks around 
their necks to symbolize their knowledge 
that we live in a crucial time. 

Student resistance has also expressed 
itself more directly. For example, stu- 
dents with the support of the larger 
community have begun to organize a 
campaign to reinstitute Black Studies in 
the school curriculum. Only two years 
ago, students at Oakland High walked 
out of classes and marched downtown to 
protest the school board's attempts to 
implement year-round scheduling. The 
board facing both this protest and 
leaflets circulating at many other Oak- 
land public schools, backed down to the 
students' pressure. 

Students today and in the past have 
been actively working to gain control 
over the institutions that affect their 
lives. They have not acted simply as 
powerless victims. They are not from 
backgrounds that "make learning diffi- 
cult if not impossible." They do not 
believe that they spend their days in 
"places of no account." Rather, they 
learn daily. They understand their real- 
ity. They know what 'time" it is. As 
Public Enemy have advised, they "don't 
believe the hype" — even if it is printed as 

a "tale of toil" in Processed World. Most 
importantly, they struggle to ignore 
those who serve a steady diet of despair. 
Like the young everywhere, they main- 
tain their hopes and dreams of a better 

— L. Barbudo 

L. Barbudo has taught for two years in the 
Oakland Public School system. Before Oak- 
land, L. Barbudo lived in Boston and was 
active in the student movement. The poetry 
quotes are from Bertolt Brecht's "Speech to the 
Danish Working- Class Actors on the Art of 
Observation. " 

These accounts of the Oakland 
school system are played out against 
an ominous backdrop. As of late 
summer, 1989, the Oakland school 
system is facing a multi-million dol- 
lar deficit; a state imposed trustee- 
ship; and has had several officials 
and staff arrested in a broadening 
probe of corruption. It has consid- 
ered cutting virtually all non- 
academic classes, including sports 
and music. The grim scenario of 
self-serving politicians and (some) 
staff gorging at the public feed- 
trough distract from the real inha- 
bitants of the school: the students 
and teaching staff. 

— the Editors 

Brazilian Notes 

17 January and 28 February, 1989 

Salvador, Bahia, Brazil 

Hello to All, 

There are a lot of trial balloons 
floating around the press about ex- 
changing foreign debt for investments in 
environmental protection, esp. in the 
Amazon. Feels like a consensus devel- 
oping in that direction. That's where 
Chico Mendes fits in — he was the best 
known leader of the seringueros, the 
rubber tappers (you've probably read all 
about him since his murder; it got 
more attention here for the international 
reaction than for the actual murder — 
virtually commonplace throughout 
northern Brazil; 1,500 political assassi- 
nations since 1980; only 6 have even led 
to arrests, only 1 conviction of a pistole- 
ro — vast majority of the murdered are 
active militants, many union leaders, 
leftist priests, agrarian reform activists, 
and even some politicians.). 

On a down-to-earth daily life level 
they are fighting for a decent, humane 
existence. They represent the rational 
exploitation of the forest — they might 
prefer a cooperative, non-capitalist life, 

but they show the way for a more 
modern way for Brazil to use its patri- 
mony (as they are fond of calling it). 
The Partido Verde, and most other eco- 
logical proponents, are quick to empha- 
size that continued "development" on 
the same path (deforestation through 
burning, eventual cattle ranching for a 
few years) is going to sacrifice a much 
greater potential wealth — the richest 
gene bank in the world! So, just like 
home, ecological arguments hinge on 
catering to dreams of future profits, new 
efficiencies, modernizing the economy, 
of course no talk of making a break with 
such a logic. . . . 

In Xapuri, the union office is across a 
small lot from the Rodoviana (bus sta- 
tion) and abuts the same plaza as the 
Policia Militar and the large Catholic 
Church, 2 institutions with diametrical- 
ly opposite relationships to the events 
there. As it turns out, the Sindicato has 
been having lots of media-type visitors 
over the past 2 months (and a BBC crew 
over the past 2 years) and since their 
lives are on the line and it's all still new 
and fresh (emotionally, many are still 
really feeling the pain of Mendes' assas- 
sination), they were waiting with a 
union truck to take us on the tour, 
though they themselves don't seem to 
conceptualize it that way. 

It took nearly three hours to get to the 
Posto de Saude, a small 2-room wooden 
shack adjacent to a number of other 
buildings inhabited by a seringuero fami- 
ly. Then we drove another 30 minutes 
and came to the seringal of Chico 

Mendes' brother-in-law and walked 
through a forest until we came to a 
clearing where other friends and family 
live in very primitive wooden shacks. 
From there we took a short walk into 
deeper forest and got a demonstration of 
rubber tapping and the harvesting of 
castanheiros, known to us as Brazil nuts. 
On the way back Saba, our main host, 
gestured back to the forest and told us 
that it is in the forest that the seringueros 
feel free, since at home many are 
marked for death and in general they 
are all afraid to walk the streets of 
Xapuri at night. 

These guys are really smart, super 
class-conscious. Saba told us that the 
connection to the Pacific would bring 
nothing to the workers of Acre, and 
Chico Mendes had succeeded in stop- 
ping money for the asphalting of 
the road at a BID meeting in 1987 I 
think, on the grounds of the damage it 
would bring to the environment and 
the indigenous peoples and the serin- 
gueros themselves. 

I felt pretty disgusted when I saw 
Bush's supposed warning — dunno how 
it went over in the U.S. but here it was 
preceded already by a growing wave of 
nearly hysterical nationalism, right- 
wing politicians on the news every night 
solemnly or passionately proclaiming 
their categorical opposition to the "in- 
ternationalization of the Amazon" or as 
Sarney put it when he got back from 
Japan, he wasn't going to allow the 
Amazon to become a "Green Persian 

A Seringuer 

>nian State of Acre, Brazil 


But the U.S. interest has seldom 
been so naked as in this case of the road 
to the Pacific — how much of the Japan- 
ese beef market will American produc- 
ers lose if this road is built? How much 
rtiore will Japanese consumer products 
invade the Brazilian market, tradition- 
cilly the domain of U.S. multinationals? 
George Bush cares about the rain forest? 
Only to impress naive environmentalists 
in the U.S.. 

The road in Acre, and the whole story 
of the massive dam-building plans of the 
Brazilian government in the Altamira/ 
Xingu region (and actually on a number 
of other rivers too), are two examples of 
the battle of Modernity here, or more 
accurately, Brazil's attempt to copy the 
opening of the American West, only 
with the technologies of the late twen- 
tieth century instead of that of the late 
19th. There is a commonly-held patrio- 
tism that Brazil is the country of the 
future — not surprisingly it's the military 
that really pushes this, nowadays from 
behind the scenes (for the moment they 
still control the government complete- 

The story of the Indians of the Xingu 
River Basin, and perhaps more compel- 
lingly, the story of the Yanomami up on 
the northern border, is one that reminds 
me of all the genocides and massacres 
and just plain fucking raw deals that got 
shoved down the throats of Indians all 
over the U.S.. Every heart-rending 
story you've ever heard about some 
awful thing done to Indians is happen- 
ing right now in Brazil — makes me sick 
just thinking about it. 

So we went to that big Indian meeting 
in Altamira, sort of by accident. We 
were in Belem and decided to track 
down this organization that was in the 
paper, SOPREN, the Society for the 
Preservation of the Cultural and Natu- 
ral Resources of the Amazon. By pure 
luck we arrived at their office in an old 
museum just before a press conference 
was about to begin in preparation for 
the following week's 1st Meeting of 
Indigenous Peoples in Altamira. At that 
press conference we met Darrell Posey, 
the U.S. ethnobiologist who just got his 
charge of "smearing the good name of 
Brazil abroad" dropped, and is a very 
smart and interesting guy who has done 
a lot of work with the Kayapo Indians, 
and has come to some fascinating con- 
clusions about how "unnatural" the 
rainforest is, since the Indians have 
been actively managing it for thousands 
of years. He argues that a significant 


part of the distribution of flora and 
fauna results from active intervention 
by the Indians. More trouble for the 
theoreticians of pristine nature. 

We also met several of the organizers 
of the event, and by chance were 
introduced to Joao de Castro, who 
turned out to be our most gracious and 
informative host while in Altamira — he 
put us up in his house (later we 
imagined that this was probably as good 
for him as for us, since he and his family 
are quite worried for their physical 
safety, especially now that everyone has 
gone home). 

The event was really pretty amazing 
— not often in Brazilian or world history 
have you had anything quite like this. 
For one whole day of the 5-day Encontro 
the head man of the government electric 
utility sat listening to denunciations of 
his plans from Indians, some of whom at 
the start of the conference had fled into 
the forest when they encountered so 
many Indians, not to mention the army 
of international and national media (I've 
never seen so many hand-held video 
cameras in one place in my life, could've 
been a convention). 

At the pre-event press conference a 
rep announced that this was not going to 
be a pique-nique, or a folkloric event. 
But folkloric it was, and we actually felt 
very uncomfortable when we went to the 
Indians' camp where they were sitting 
around or occasionally doing a dance of 
some sort, but were ON DISPLAY in a 
disturbingly zoo-like atmosphere. But 
they showed an amazingly sophisticated 

sense of media and theater in the whole 
staging of this event. Along with this 
modern sense of media came the con- 
centration of communications responsi- 
bilities in just a few hands. Our last day 
at the conference, we interviewed some 
Indians outside during a break. Most 
wouldn't grant interviews, but one who 
did expressed strong unhappiness about 
having been told to leave the talking to 
the other leaders, since he felt that made 
the rest of them look stupid. So the 
Indians staged this modern media spec- 
tacle, and even had a rare experience of 
some kind of popular democracy also of 
a distinctly modern sort (just a few years 
ago several of these tribes were at war 
with one another). 

But the other part of the story, mostly 
ignored (as far I could tell) by the 
media, was the town of Altamira itself, 
and the larger question of moderniza- 
tion in the Amazon. On the first day of 
the Encontro the local U.D.R. chapter 
(Unido Democratico Rural— the most or- 
ganized ultra-right group in the coun- 
try, has a strong grip on most small 
towns in the interior of the country — 
also reputed to be the sponsor of the 
death of Chico Mendes and most death 
squad activity in Brazil), staged a huge 
rally, which at the time made it seem 
that the entire town was in favor of the 
dam, and hence against the Indians and 
the ecologists (oh, there was also a parallel 
encounter every night of Non-govern- 
mental Preservationist Organizations). 
All the stores in town and even the 
city hall was closed in support of this 

A Kayapo Indian at the First Indigenous People's Meeting in Altamira 

demo. We felt pretty depressed, espe- 
cially since many people seemed very 
zealous, and the U.D.R. seemed to 
have things very under control. They 
had already staged two provocations 
during the weekend before the confer- 
ence was to begin; someone took five 
shots from the road into the Indian 
camp — no injuries, gunmen escape into 
the night, then a blockade is staged 
when a huge truck breaks down right in 
front of the gate of the Indians' camp — 
delicate, undisclosed negotiations re- 
solve the impasse. The original plan was 
for the Indians to have a march through 
town but they canceled that idea to 
avoid a confrontation. 

After that initial show of force, 
though, the story began to shift for us as 
during the rest of the week we kept 
finding more and more people opposed 
to the dam, and by the end of the week 
there was a magnificent rally against the 
dam, attended by at least 5,000 on a 
Thursday afternoon, even though all the 
stores and city hall remained open. For 
Altamira this was an amazing week, 
democracy in the streets, the whole 
thing. Everyone was talking all week 
about the dam, energy policy, the press, 
the whole surrounding area has been 
deforested and is masquerading as farm 
land (though you cannot get any fresh 
produce grown locally, it's all boated or 
trucked in from Belem, tomatoes 300% 
more expensive than in Belem, beer 
twice as much, etc. and most of the 
population is very poor). . . . 

Carnaval in Salvador lived up to its 
wild reputation, and we sampled it 
without getting lost in it or devoured by 
it (both real possibilities). The scene in 
Salvador is not like Rio de Janeiro or 
Sao Paulo, where Carnaval is a huge 
pageant and appears almost like a Las 
Vegas stage show. In Salvador there are 
between 50-100 different groups, called 
blocos, some of whom are accompanied 
by a Trio Eletrico, a deceiving name I 
believe derived from the first ones in the 
mid-1970s, but now a large band of 6-13 
people, on top of a 2-story tall truck, the 
height being constructed entirely of 
giant high-quality speakers with enor- 
mous sound output. The bands on the 
Trios were nearly all local to Bahia, but 
all seemed well-known, tight and 
danceable, and surprisingly to us, they 
all played each other's songs, especially 
the songs written for this Carnaval. 

Salvador is a very intense city and no 
one should go there imagining that it is 
an easy place to be — it's very segregat- 

ed, our black friend compared it to 
South Africa, and the racial tension is 
palpable (kind of like going to Detroit). 
But it is a beautiful city too, and the 
black community maintains Candomble 
and LJmbanda, two syncretic faiths, as 
forms of cultural survival and opposi- 
tion, there in town. We almost had an 
interview with an Afro-bloco, He Aiye, 
who are very black nationalist, and had 
the slogan at last year's Carnaval: Cem 
Anas de Abolicao, Cem Anas Sem Nada. 100 
Years of Abolition (of Slavery, 1888 in 
Brazil), 100 Years of Nothing. 

— Lucius Cabins 

So You Want to Be a Kodak Drone? 

Dear PW, 

I used to have an ideal in my head 
that a larger company would be so large 
that they wouldn't really have the time 
to care what you thought as long as you 
got the job done. My job at Kodak in 
Denver, Colorado was repairing high 
speed copiers at customer offices, which 
I thought meant little supervision. Little 
did I know that "looking sharp and 
professional at all times" was most 
important. But this didn't have much to 
do with the actual repair of a copier. 
The job started out with little interfer- 
ence from my supervisor, Steve, for the 
first five months, but things went quick- 
ly downhill when the business climate 
changed and customers were buying 
and leasing fewer Kodak copiers. 

Steve started evaluating my work by 
visiting the work site where I was 
repairing the customer's copier. He 
would write me up, selectively noting 
bad things about my performance, like 
how I dressed in slacks that did not look 
"professional." When a customer had a 
problem with a copier that was not fixed 
the first time I visited and I had to go 
back to repair it, Steve would always 
write that up. One time he went out to 
lunch with me and my co-workers to see 
how I "interacted" with them. 

When Steve fired me, he told me I 
had to sign a paper saying I left under 
my own free will. I told Steve he would 
have to wait a very long time before I 
did that. For sticking up for myself, I 
received two weeks of severance pay, 
medical benefits for two months and 
unemployment benefits, none of which I 
would have gotten if I had just signed 
that agreement with Steve. 



rpic SnlciiDrfjlcubcr Ji 

While I was on unemployment for 
five months, I started volunteering at a 
handicapped ski program in nearby 
Winter Park, Colorado, teaching skiing 
to mentally disabled kids. I learned from 
these disabled people that "fitting in" 
was something they could never do. 
Society categorizes them either as really 
weird or really feels sorry for them or 
both. I learned from the disabled that 
"fitting in" was not always the best thing 
for me either. 

After the skiing program ended, I 
moved out to California to work for a 
small company in the San Jose area that 
serviced Kodak copiers. They really 
wanted someone right away and gave 
me the impression I was the one. I soon 
found out that the service manager at 
this place wanted me to be even more 
"professional" than Kodak. A week after 
I was hired, I told my supervisor during 
lunch that I windsurfed and that I 
planned to keep my board on top of my 
car, so after work I could go sailing. The 
supervisor told me that I would look 
"unprofessional." Needless to say, I only 
lasted two weeks, and during my "dein- 
terviewing" (firing), I was told how I 
didn't fit in. The supervisor insisted on 
insulting me, telling me about all his 
troubles even though he didn't want to 
hear any of mine. So I asked for my 
check. After I got it, I "returned" the 
, parts and tools that I carried in my car, 
throwing them all over the parking lot of 
the office complex and yelling, "If you 
don't give a shit about me, why should I 
care about you!" 

My supervisor looked at me in this 
totally perplexed trance, like he was 
thinking: "This person looks mad and 
humiliated; gee whiz, I wonder why. . ." 
After I got into my car, I proceeded to 
run over the parts I had tossed around 
the parking lot. Leaving like a flaming 
madman was not as humiliating as the 
supervisor would have liked it. If the 
spirit is within you, waiting to jump out, 
do it next time you're fired, and you'll feel 

— C.J. Flaming Madman, SF, CA 


Apologies to All . . . 

... to err is numinous. In PW23, the 
poet of "Our Economic System" should 
have read Bruce Isaacson, not Bruce 
Jacobson. Mr. Isaacson has declined to 
change his name; in this issue he 
appears in an unedited guise. 

The editor concerned did not realize 
her mistake until one night after publi- 
cation, when she "awoke from a dream 
that some evil enchanter had cast." So 

We also accidently omitted the name 
of the author of the "SFAI Memo" in 
issue #23. Anne Harvey deserves the 
credit & thanks. 

— The Editors 


Perhaps we should view Robert Tap- 
pan Morris (good middle name) as a 
half life hero, a not-yet-hero. Think of 
all the demonstrators and nuke resisters 
in this country and in Europe who for 
years have been trying to stop nuclear 
war — and Robert T. Morris stopped the 
Pentagon and military research for a 
day and a half. All with one computer 
and his own little virus. 

Well, not all by himself, he had a little 
help. He is the son of Robert T. Morris 
Sr. who is "the chief computer scientist 
for the National Computer Security 
Center near Baltimore, the Federal 
agency responsible for protecting classi- 
fied data and other national security 
information stored in computers." 

The kid is a little like his dad. There is 
however, a dramatic difference not only 
in age but in effect. The younger 
Morris, a Cornell student is an almost- 
hero. He entered a series of commands 
that caused 60,000 computers across the 
U.S. "directly or indirectly tied to the 
Department of Defense computer net- 
work" to crash! 

Heh, here is a fast way to stop the 


From South Africa, Dr. Taj Hargey, a professor of history at University of Cape 
Town, has been traveling up and down California through much of this summer, 
with some sorties back East. He is soliciting support for a new newspaper in South 
Africa, The Forum, which will be a 48 page secular weekly; the country's first 
independent black-owned newspaper since The Voice, a short-lived rag which was 
shut down in the period of repression in the late 1970s following the Soweto 

"Unless black people have full and unfettered access to local and international 
news coverage, they will remain shackled to those dehumanizing notions of 
inferiority and discrimination so subtly fostered and professionally propagated by 
the South African bureaucracy and the news media as a whole." 

Thus far, the most support Dr. Hargey has found has been from individuals. 
Donations (whether money or PC/Mac computers, programs, or peripherals for a 
high-end desktop publishing enterprise) are desperately sought, and tax-deductible. 

Address: South Africa Free Press Agency, 

c/o Tecnica, 3254 Adeline Ave., 

Berkeley, CA 94703 USA 

Phone:415-655 3838 

Checks payable to the Institute For Technology Development (SAFPA). & 

War machine! 

-RGB, SF, Ca. 
[Honest, officer, it was just a mis- 

Dear PW, 

I'm getting real pissed off about 
pissing in the bottle. These fools are 
everywhere, and its getting harder & 
harder to avoid them. So I was thinking 
that some of us flunky lower/middle 
management types might for once do 
some good, since we're the ones they're 
trying to stick with the unpleasant task 
of enforcing compliance upon our breth- 

Put in other words, this crazy system 
is only as good as the records it keeps, 
and if there's one thing we white collar 
types are superb at, it's keeping records. 
Or mis-keeping them, if we're in a lousy 
mood, or tired, or the computer fucks 
up. Get my drift? 

What would be really neat is if there 
was a network of white collar resistors. 

people who would cooperate with each 
other. Like I feel a lot freer to change 
the data at my end if you're also 
changing it at your end. Or maybe 
you're a computer whiz but I'm a 
humble clerk who happens to know 
everything about how the data is en- 
tered. Or maybe you get paid $4 an 
hour to work in some lab where you do 
nothing but handle bottles of pee all day 
long, and you know what all those little 
numerical codes mean. And I have a 
friend who knows how to change num- 

The possibilities are endless. And if 
enough people cooperate on this ether- 
eal level, no one will ever get caught. 
The Republicans will be happy. Ameri- 
ka will be drug free — at least on paper. 

Maybe you could save some column 
space for people who want to share info 
on this particular intestine of the beast. 


Mary Jane Whitecollar 


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